When I first came here to DTS to earn a master’s degree in Media Arts and Worship, I wanted to be a novelist. And I still do. At that time I did not dare to self identify as an Artist (upper or lowercase a) but I knew very well that’s what the head of the department, Dr. Grant, meant, as he beamed at me over volumes of Shakespeare on his desk, and told me a new track had opened up for those not interested in writing solely for ministry but in being artists.
Writer, artist, synonyms. Got it.
I thought an artist is a person who produces art. And it is. But an artist is not only a creator of products, even those most respected refactors of beauty, truth, and goodness we call Art.
Now I am stepping into living like an artist.
As Dr. Basselin keenly observed in class the other day, the artist can never give others the real object or subject of their work. The artist can’t say as if saying ex nihilo, “here’s beauty, here’s goodness, here’s truth.” Not only is this wholly outside of any given artist’s resources (yes even Bansky), to provide the thing itself is not the artist’s calling.
Artists have a prophetic calling to invite.
I cannot give you the thing itself, what I can give you is access to it in a new way.
The hard work that an artist does is in her invitation; her art must be inviting, dynamic, and accessible. The artist does not say “I give you the thing itself! das Ding an sich!” (and he who does, regardless of his persuasive powers nor technological advancements, nor innate beauty, flee him to the hills), but rather, “Come, answer this invitation to _______with me. Stand with me in this unique space and commune differently with this thing than before.”
When I say that I am now living like an artist, it means that I am called to invitation. I am learning to be invited and to invite Reality, and to invite others, not only in the things I make, but in all I say and do.
If we taught our children that this is what it is to be an artist, how many artists would blossom into the world?
For I know this is something I can keep doing all my life.
And I invite you to do the same.