Art for All

I spent my snow-day laundry catch-up time watching this video of Malcom Guite’s book launch (if you haven’t experienced his beautiful poetry, check it out here), and I have some thoughts.

To give credit where credit is due, this video from Alastair Gordon and friends about art and faith (also laundry-folding entertainment in my house) started me thinking about some of these things. If you have time, both are worth watching.

A recent attempt at homeschool art class

Something that struck me about the artists (I’m lumping poets, writers, and other makers in to the group “artists” here) in both videos was their humble acceptance of the goodness of their work. I tend towards a shrug and a deflection on the odd occasion when someone complements my work. It still feels like an indulgence to take the time to “make” at all, and to think that my work is well done, or stranger yet, serves some greater purpose, feels arrogant.

So it was both jarring and illuminating to see artists discuss their methods, their motivations, and their finished work as if it were totally normal to spend a work-day sketching by the seashore or filling enormous canvases with paint or scribbling sonnets – and to do it intentionally for the glory of God.

At the same time, it was helpful for me to see people whose expertise is in different fields appreciating the art. Like maybe, just maybe, art isn’t some special language only accessible to people who have earned an MFA.

I love the idea of art being just another one of the many ways a person might be called to serve God and neighbor. I guess in my mind art has always been set apart – as if a special kind of people who lead a radical kind of life are the only ones who can make art. These chosen few have special studios and strange ideas and are often anti-social. (Although, by that standard, maybe I have two out of three – no room for a studio here!) They also have nearly unlimited time to work on their craft, perfect their style, and make lots of mistakes on the way to finished pieces.

It’s been hard to see myself as part of this world, however much I might enjoy creating in my spare moments. I suffer from a distinct lack of studio, precious little time, and a dread of mistakes.

My studio – a roughly 2×2 secretary desk (which I would not trade for the world)

So it was good for me to watch these artists be normal people with families and big ideas, and to see that they simply have made the choice to make art their lives, to hone the gifts they were given, and to think deeply about how to best share those gifts with the world. Not to say that that’s easy, but it’s so helpful to see both that it can be done, and a glimpse of how a person actually goes about doing it.

Close to Home

I guess that title could also refer to our renewed search for a permanent dwelling place (prayers for that, please!)…

but this poem hit close to home, considering what we’ve been through during the last six months.  So I thought I’d share it.  Thanks to poets.org and their poem-a-day project for bringing it to my attention.

The Things That Count

Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Now, dear, it isn’t the bold things,
Great deeds of valour and might,
That count the most in the summing up of life at the end of the day.
But it is the doing of old things,
Small acts that are just and right;
And doing them over and over again, no matter what others say;
In smiling at fate, when you want to cry, and in keeping at work when

          you want to play—
Dear, those are the things that count.

And, dear, it isn’t the new ways
Where the wonder-seekers crowd
That lead us into the land of content, or help us to find our own.
But it is keeping to true ways,
Though the music is not so loud,
And there may be many a shadowed spot where we journey along

          alone;
In flinging a prayer at the face of fear, and in changing into a song a

          groan—
Dear, these are the things that count.

My dear, it isn’t the loud part
Of creeds that are pleasing to God,
Not the chant of a prayer, or the hum of a hymn, or a jubilant shout or

          song.
But it is the beautiful proud part
Of walking with feet faith-shod;
And in loving, loving, loving through all, no matter how things go

          wrong;
In trusting ever, though dark the day, and in keeping your hope when

          the way seems long—

Dear, these are the things that count.

Poetry II

Well, I thought I needed more poetry in my life, so I wrote some.  (By some, I mean one short poem.)  And subscribed to the Writer’s Almanac RSS feed.  I’m not done being grumpy with NPR, but it’s hard for me to stay mad a Garrison Keillor for long.  In other news, the girls and I have all had a simultaneous cold, but the suffering should be over soon.  As should school – two more days and exams for me!  Despite how ready I was for the end, it has snuck up very quickly.  And without further adieu or any more sentences beginning with conjunctions (don’t tell my English teacher)…here is the poem, incomplete, perhaps, and titleless as yet, but my first in a very long time. 

On my hip
is where you belong,
little one.
 
Between these hips you rode
quietly
for nine long
(short) months;
 
Through these hips you passed
Turning that long
(short) night
into morning;

 

On this hip,
now right,
now left,
you sit watching, learning,
reaching with your short
(long) arms
for what catches your eye.

 

In my arms,
on my hip,
is where you belong,
little one.

 

 

Poetry…

…is something I think I need more of in my life.  Fortunately, Karen Edmisten puts a little something up every Friday.  I thought this one was worth passing on.  I’m going to have to look for more of Anne Porter’s work!