Tonight in my audited Christian Faith, Art & Architecture class we had P. Groth as a guest speaker. Professor/Pastor Groth went through Genesis 1-3 and its implications for us regarding art. The whole speech was interesting, but one part really sparked my interest. In Genesis we see God taking material (which He created) and forming it. He takes it and molds stuff from one thing into another. This was an easy idea for the many art folks in my class to understand regarding the shaping of clay into a form or of mixing paints. But this aspect of vocation as taking raw materials and playing with it to form something else is applicable in any field. A writer takes words and molds them in such a way as to convey particular feelings and information to an audience. A cook may also use flour and water and eggs and oil and many other ingredients to make a delicious cake. This arose a question in my mind.
What is my art? What am I trying to form?
The answer? I do believe it’s people. As a teacher I will be taking nimrod teenagers and trying to nurture them. I don’t really know that there is an “end product” to be aiming for. For some students getting an A will be a successful end while others will need to be accepted to three Ivy League schools just to meet expectations. Is my job to form them into Christians? Artists? Intellectuals? Individuals who are “ready” to take on the “real world” (whatever that is)?
The thing about art is that, in my opinion, it cannot be produced. Art is something that is experienced, interpreted. You can sculpt a statue, bake a cake, compose a sonata, train a dog or grow corn but it is not the production of those objects that makes it art. It is only art when people have found value of some sort in what has been produced. Art does not have a formula so there is liberty and freedom to detract from any expected norm. The implications for me as a future teacher is that my time is not successful art if my students get a 44 on the ACT but rather if they come back years later to say that what I did positively impacted them. Victory in vocation is derived from the value of those receiving and interpreting something rather than in the checking off of a production list.
So what’s your art?