To an unknown god.
The ancient Athenians erected many shrines to various deities that gave power, perspective and no small dose of fear to their collective psyche. Early in the first century A.D., the Jewish philosopher Paul of Tarsus, a follower of Jesus Christ, stumbled into their city and observed the many places of devotion to the unseen. Ensuring they were covering their bases and not offending some minor celestial player, the Athenians apparently constructed a shrine with the inscription, “To an unknown god”. Paul took note of this, commended the Athenians for their widespread devotion to religious matters, and proceeded to delineate the framework of his faith in a god he had come to know as Jesus.
To an unknown god.
When I paint, I go beyond what the eyes visibly see. I feel the flow of infinite energy, the continual renewal of the universe. Molecules, atoms and cells always in motion, nothing is real and still as it visually appears. Life is simply flowing energy. That is what I paint.
I donâ€™t use a paintbrush, but instead find it more exciting to experience the fluidity of the flowing paint as I pour it onto the canvas. Sometimes I roll the paint, again, feeling the flowing movements of motion.
In the mad rush of living every individual has an agenda of daily tasks which leave little time for reflection or â€œactivity for a more general good.â€œ Activity of this nature can be church related, non-profit related, or community related, and is essential to the life of a community.
When individuals do make the effort to add to the community by entering the realm of â€œactivity for the general goodâ€ it is important to remember no organization (just like no individual) exists in a vacuum. Each non-profit, each governmental organization or advisory board, each public facility, each religious organization relates in some manner to its environment. How they all relate is what determines the strength of community growth and its quality.
While a seminary student, I took an amazing course called Storytelling. One assignment from Dr. Chuck Killian called for us to flip through a stack of popular magazines and make a collage that told something about ourselves.
As I examined the collage I constructed I was given a holistic snapshot of my life, with the past, present and future held together in some sort of epiphany-laden tension. This was therapeutic for me, for I have felt most strangled in life when the lenses were fuzzy and I could not catch a discernable glimpse of who Iâ€™ve been and what Iâ€™m becoming.
I cannot help it. A new Star Wars movie is around the corner, and I am obsessed.
Peel back 28 years to the summer of 1977. An awkward boy with thick glasses goes to spend a summer month at his adult sisterâ€™s house in Ohio. Heâ€™s unaware of most of the culture around him, as life has been reduced to climbing a wondrous apple tree for four months and hanging out with his toddler niece. He gets back home on the plane, and starts hearing a bunch of buzz about a movie called Star Wars. Everybody has already seen it, all of his friends, even his parents! Whatâ€™s all the hype? Finally, he gets to go…and heâ€™s hooked.
Forcing Creativity. Have you ever had writer’s block? Well, visual artists get it too. Most artists have these periods of time when we just canâ€™t get into creating. The natural inclination is to throw up the hands and accept the cop out, â€œ Iâ€™m blocked.â€ While itâ€™s healthy to take an occasional break, â€œblocksâ€, if left untreated, can build upon themselves and lead many artists to totally abandon artistic pursuits for dangerously long periods of time. They also frequently happen when we are approaching peak/ breakthrough stages in our artistic development.
In his magnificent little book Windows of the Soul, Ken Gire writes that we have been given the gifts of art, music, sculpture, drama and literature to lead us out of our hiding places…to lead us along in our search for â€œwhat was lost.â€
Gire writes, â€œWe painted to see if what was lost was in the picture. We composed to hear if what was lost was in the music. We sculpted to find if what was lost was in the stone. We wrote to discover if what was lost was in the story. Through art and music and stories we searched for what was missing in our lives.â€
Strep throat was consuming my health, my awareness, my movements. Yet, the actor in me knew the show must go on.
It was December 1988, the final week of the fall semester of my junior year at Florida State University in Tallahassee, Fla. The weather had taken a turn for the cold, and with it my immune system had gone into the tank. I had several final exams to endure, as well as directing and performing two separate scenes in my Theater Directing class.
Media and art for years now have sought to shock us and bombard us into paying attention. To rise above the noise and hype, artists and venues have resorted to what the many call “negative art,” using tactics that scare us into paying attention. Ads that show a burly thief breaking into your home, threatening your family, selling alarm systems. As a result, modern art often falls short.
Is that all there is? I have to ask, what is the role of art in our modern age?
Each breaking dawn demands of us the tasks we must accomplish, the problems we must solve, the relationships we must manage. We need not proactively fill our calendars with many meetings, appointments and errandsâ€”life will happily and often subconsciously do so for us.
Without intentionally seeking to stem this tyranny of the urgent, the momentary demands of society can gradually erode the remnants of what remains embedded with us: a childâ€™s right and desire to dream, to imagine, to soar. We can gradually lose our appetite for the truth, settling instead for the cheap imitation of what we take to be a fulfilling life because no one else seems to be alarmed by its shallow waters.