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The Art of the Matter
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From the paint that was thrown from primal tools onto the cave walls in Lascaux, to the seemingly endless rehashing of the same images ad absurdum from internet memes on our friends and acquaintance's Facebook walls, humans have sought to sense and make sense of our existence through art. And as technology has enabled even the most feebly gifted of us to produce art and share it with a community of some form, we are encountering, experiencing and creating art more and more with each passing day. But just as technology has increased the sheer amount of art we encounter and produce, it has also lent to it an impermanence, and fleeting value.

Thinking about this brought to mind a project I used to have each of my high school history classes complete at the beginning of each semester. Before we dove into texts and assignments, I would have my class participate in an imagined archaeological dig in the distant future of our time, and describe the conclusions someone would draw about our society based upon what they dug up. I would ask my students if they thought us a crass and superficial society, a society that was largely just and egalitarian, or possibly a society that produced objects and ideas of lasting value.

Lasting Value

This exercise raises a number of questions when it comes to the art that we are creating now. Are we producing something of lasting value? Is it important to create art that has a legacy, and speaks not only to our present but also our future? Are we spending enough thought and energy both in the consumption and creation of art?     

Immediately brought to mind is the quickly snapped and shared cell phone photo that I then post to any number of social networks—where those I am connected to can like, comment, heart, re-post, share and tag my “artistic” piece. This often gives me a certain satisfaction and even an ego boost for a short time. But in the endless scroll of our daily lives, have I really created something of value? Something that effects the real world in a real way?

Somehow I cannot help but feel that there is more for me to do in the now to create art that matters. I also cannot help but feel that I need to create pieces that will speak to a larger audience and a larger purpose. Reflecting on this calls me to begin creating and consuming art in a new way. Isaiah writes “O Lord, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand.” (Isaiah 64:8).

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By Garrett Gladden. Copyright © 2013 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines. Scripture taken from the NEW KING JAMES VERSION © 1982.

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