On Art and Creativity

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I believe that man is created in the image of God.

Created in the image of God. We were born out of infinite creativity, and in his image, we are likewise creative. Deep echoes unto deep, and our nature responds to the nature of he who formed our substance from dust. Our soul, our very essence, demands creativity. In all areas of life we have the potential to express this deep communion; it is only human.

Some have said that because all are created in the image of God, all are artists. Certainly, all are creative. In the ways that we form unique thoughts and act upon them: planning, shaping, evolving and constantly bettering our methods. Even in something as humanly basic as cellular regeneration or procreation, we see how physically and spiritually we cannot escape our creative nature. By nature we bring forth newness and life.

Yet, I find I cannot say that all are artists.

I believe we’re missing here a crucial definition; what is art? If art is merely creativity, then all are artists and all is art. Like the age-old maxim that “everyone is special,” art becomes meaningless and trite when expanded so broadly that it encompasses everything. All are special, all are artists; no one is special, no one is an artist. In order to avoid sinking in the sand of postmodernism, we must narrow the scope and differentiate between concepts that are similar, but not the same.

Art is the use of the subjective to reveal the universal, a symbol manifesting reality. Art is relevant to all people at all times and places because it expresses objective truths about our human condition. We are sons of Adam. We all experience life under the sun. We all die, too.

Whatever this is, whatever we want to call it, creativity cannot sum it up. One can be creative in their occupation as a nurse, a businessman, a police officer, but one is not expressing objective truths through universal symbolism in doing so. Life is not art because life is what’s real. Art is a symbol revealing the real. This is not mere creativity; this is something deeper. The symbol wrapped up in the crescendo of a concerto and the metaphor of a sonnet bear a far deeper expression of not just the artist’s soul, but all souls. Creativity is an expression of the self. Art is an expression of humanity.

And this is in no way belittling creativity. In expressing ourselves we express our nature, our soul. We showcase our likeness to our creator, infinite God. This is no small thing. But artists bear the privileged burden of summing up humanity in all its glory and flaws. The rest of the world has the joy of being able to look into the mirror held up by Bach and Dostoyevsky, Shakespeare and Van Gogh, and see their own reflection and all the world’s, captured fully and exquisitely. For when you meet with Hamlet and Mr. Darcy, or hear Beethoven’s fifth, or join the blind beggar crying out along the dusty Jerusalem road, “Jesus, son of David, have mercy on me,” and your own soul is met in theirs, unity is glimpsed. The human condition is realized through human expression. All mankind is able to commune. And in this communion, we break not bread, but barriers.

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