Why Create Anyway?

by Guest Blogger October 05, 2011

by Richard Cummings

It is a simple question, but at any given time all creative persons have struggled with this basic query: Why do I do what I do? Society might say that what we do as writers, dancers, musicians, and visual artists is frivolous and nonessential. But on a primal, intrinsic level we shapers of the world know that this is not the case. Art is essential, vital, even revelatory. This is especially the case when the artist is concerned with the spiritual in life. Anish Kapoor, one of contemporary sculpture’s global icons, recognizes the power of sounding the depths of the mystery of existence. He states that the…”truly mysterious implies that there is something else going on — it’s a matter of meaning.”[1] That search for meaning has occupied human consciousness for millennia. The search for the sublime, which can be easily found in the work of Kapoor, is ultimately tied to an artist’s worldview, which simultaneously forms and is formed by our understanding of existence. For artists of faith, worldview plays an especially essential role, because it becomes the apologetic by which we answer the question: Why create? My point of view when entering this discussion is that of a follower of Christ and a visual artist. What follows is an exploration of my developing worldview, but I encourage this exploration by anyone in any faith. In sharing, I hope to foster understanding in those within and without my particular belief system. My worldview, when applied specifically to the visual arts and to all creative acts in general, provides a lens by which I view both that which I create and that which is created in the world around me. An exploration of Christian worldview begins to provide an answer to the question “Why Create?” In discussing worldview and how it affects my approach to the “why” of creating, I find it helpful to establish a common frame of reference for those who share my faith. I do this by setting one of the fundamental statements of our Christian faith as my point of departure — The Apostles' Creed. For those not familiar with The Apostles' Creed, its text confirms the Trinity, the incarnate Christ’s acts of redemption and the new covenant manifestations of church, the communion of the saints, forgiveness, bodily resurrection, and life everlasting. When contemplating Christ’s acts of redemption from the standpoint of one who works in reshaping the physical world, certain beliefs reveal their importance to the area of visual art. Christ came to matter [the physical world] as matter [in bodily form] to redeem the physical and the material as part of the wholeness of creation. Matter matters to God as is evidenced in the belief that he will create a new Earth and we will be resurrected into new bodies. Christ, through grace, intercedes for us and makes perfect to God our imperfect material and immaterial offerings. All of these offerings, creations, actions, and thoughts are brought to the Father and perfected through Christ. But God doesn’t just value the material, he also mandates and blesses human creativity. The account of Adam naming the animals in Genesis 2 relates how God actively brought the animals before Adam to name. Gifting this task to Adam demonstrates God’s mandate for man to be creative. Importantly, God accepts the names that Adam provides. He doesn’t alter the names or say, “Well, that was nice, Adam, but I think we’ll go in a different direction.” In this act of acceptance God renders his blessing upon human creativity to act with individual particularization in reshaping the created world. So, why do I create? I create because I believe I was created to create. I create, because the God I believe in and worship desires for me to create, and he accepts and [I believe] shares in the joy of my creativity. So, why do you create? _________ [1] David Anfam, Anish Kapoor, Johanna Burton, Richard Deacon, and Donna M. Salvo. Anish Kapoor. Repr. ed. (London ; New York: Phaidon, 2010), 91. Featured Visual Art from Ruminate's Issue 21: Grief - Morning at Bethel. Joel Sheesley.




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11 Responses

Richard Cummings
Richard Cummings

February 17, 2017

Stephen,

I can only respond by saying how beautiful your comment was to me. As I was reading I felt a stillness and quiet, like what I feel when contemplating the stillness of a Vermeer painting. Your words are sad and beautiful at the same time. I would love to read your poetry. Loss, decay and brokenness are the elements by which I compose my assemblage work. I find that there is a noble beauty in decay, a privilege to be part of an object’s history.

Blessings to you Stephen.

Richard Cummings
Richard Cummings

February 17, 2017

Thanks Richard,

I hope that your students and colleagues find it beneficial.

Blessings!

Richard Cummings
Richard Cummings

February 17, 2017

Thanks for your comment. I like how you stated, “as a means to intentionally pay attention and invite others to pay attention.” I view my artwork as an invitation as well and an opportunity for contemplation and healing.

Best Regards,

Richard Major
Richard Major

February 17, 2017

Thanks, Rich , for a very thought provoking article. I thoroughly enjoyed what you had to say and will definitely be sharing it with my students and colleagues at Milligan. Best wishes.

dthaase
dthaase

February 17, 2017

Great article…and in answer to your question ~ 1) as a means to intentionally pay attention and invite others to pay attention & 2) as a means to play (which I use as synonymous with worship)

see some of my creations @ http://www.redbubble.com/people/dthaase/portfolio

Stephen W. Leslie
Stephen W. Leslie

February 17, 2017

Thanks for your beautiful note. Red Tailed Hawk.

Richard Cummings
Richard Cummings

February 17, 2017

Tracy,

I am so glad that you found Ruminate. Finding community, especially for creatives, can be a difficult task. It is great to have a resource where serious artists and writers of faith can have a voice and hear their voices echoed in the words of others. For visual artists, CIVA is an especially good organization. I am a member. If you are interested in expanding your resources, check them out at civa.org. Thanks again for reading the blog post here on Ruminate. We are so glad you found us and we hope that you will return often to be refreshed and challenged.

Best Regards,

dthaase
dthaase

February 17, 2017

Stephen…thank you so much for this post – it brought me life this evening. I appreciate what you have written and the brief glimpse I was able to see of the life you lead..

Stephen W. Leslie
Stephen W. Leslie

February 17, 2017

I am a hospice chaplain in a remote rural area in upstate New York. I visit terminally ill patients in their homes, drive a lot and come home to an empty house. Because I deal with death and grief so intensely I find that writing poetry helps to deal with my own emotions. I write about patients, their lives and the experience of sitting with someone as they die. One week I had seven of my patients die…which made it hard to deal with. I write poetry because I have a calling for this….but also for my own mental health….and also to honor those who have passed. It is my way of remembering them.

Tracy Pratt
Tracy Pratt

February 17, 2017

I’m building a group of websites that help me in my faith at work. I struggle with belief that my art and writing are works that God has prepared beforehand for me to step into. This morning I came across Ruminate and am grateful. It is now posted on my Top Sites screen that I may be encouraged in my faith.

Stephen W. Leslie
Stephen W. Leslie

February 17, 2017

Elevator Music – A Japanese Haibun

Called to the hospital, no family present I was alone with the dying patient, a women in her eighties.
I pulled out my silver flute and in rhythm with her breathing played melodies and sometimes just tones of sound. Although she was only barely conscious her forehead moved in reaction.
My supervisor stopped by and the patient stirred enough to greet her then lapsed back into dreamland.
I played for an hour, hospital staff, doctors, nurses and health aides stood at the door watching.
She passed quietly a few hours later

Departing here
Arriving there
Elevator music

Published by Contemporary Haibun Online

Feel free to write me if you want
gofigure2006@verizon.net

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