A study of creativity in art would be deficient if we did not seek some ideas from Bible, the manual for living a dynamic life as a Christian artist.
We have a tendency to find comfort in routines. In our increasingly complex world it is necessary to make routines out repetitive chores that require little thought. If we had to consciously rethink tasks like brushing our teeth, or answering the phone while putting on our shoes, our brains would be overloaded. Routines assist us to mentally dismiss certain activities as non-essential. When a task requires our concentration, we intuitively slow down, narrow our focus, and limit our physical activity to a bare minimum.
Conscious creativity in art also requires a level of slowing down and focus. Routine must be suspended temporarily. Slowing down forces us to make a greater demand on our brains for the complex process of creative thinking.
In our fast paced world, that pause can be perceived as wasteful. Our productivity is measured by the tangible things we accomplish like completed work.
We live by expectations that others have of us, or those that we have set ourselves. Imprisoned by these expectations, we are like the hamster on the treadmill, full of activity but going nowhere.
Taking the time for searching out creativity in art, especially if it is to be an overflow of our faith, can be equated with laziness. But that 'laziness' is simply the perception of those who do not understand our pursuit. Let me explain.
If our art is to be both worship and witness, then it will reflect some of the creativity of our Creator.
The Bible teaches that we become like the 'gods' we worship. If we excessively admire the product, the means of creating, the acclaim of others and the fame of creating lauded art... then those possess the potential of becoming our 'gods'. In a scathing discourse on that ugly process of 'becoming' like the 'gods' we worship, the Psalmist records that “Those who make them (idols that people bow down to) will be like them, and so will all who trust in them.” Ps 115:8 NIV
An even more graphic account of the creation and worship of man-made gods, is found in Isaiah 44. It is worth reading because it offers the sobering reality of our inclinations as sinful human beings .
If the tragedy of false worship describes a certain end – a futile ‘becoming’, then the opposite must be true as well!
When we worship God, we enter a different process of 'becoming' – taking on His qualities.
Therein lies one secret to creativity in art. The time spent in true worship of God, pays the rich dividend of absorbing and reflecting His creativity. That pursuit could sometimes be perceived as laziness since there may be no tangible outcome or product as an immediate result.
An example of the accusation of laziness in the pursuit of that worship occurs in the Biblical story of the Exodus. (Ch 5)
Pharaoh had expectations of the Israelites, the overseers of the work had expectations, the slave drivers had expectations, quotas had to be met, each Israelite probably also had his own personal expectation…
Under those circumstances, Moses' request of the Pharaoh to head out with his people into the desert to worship God was met with the accusation of slackness or laziness.
Yet that trek out to the desert began their training into understanding the God of the universe.
It cost them everything they were familiar with. They exchanged that which was comforting and known for the terrifying and unfamiliar.
Those that stuck with the pursuit, enjoyed a lifetime of favor and friendship with this God, who had beckoned them out. Those who chose otherwise lost more than they would ever fully comprehend.
The disruption of their familiar routine provided the seeds for their worship. For some, worship under those trying circumstances resulted in their reflecting with poignant beauty, the creativity of the God they served. For others, futile grumbling was their bitter offering.
The worshipers became the recipients of a terrific outpouring of specific, creative knowledge and instructions in all sorts of fine art and crafts.
There follows in the historical, biblical record a rich outpouring of the Spirit of God resulting in the manifestation of skills in casting, metalworking, gold and silver working, embroidery, gem cutting and setting, architecture, sculpture, weaving…
Could it be that even today like the Israelites, our pursuit of worship of this wonderfully creative God could allow us to become reflectors of His creativity in art? Perhaps we too can become the recipients of secrets of creativity that are fresh and innovative.
The potential is certainly there - if we are willing to 'lazily' pursue the Author.