**An excerpt from Art & Spirituality Lesson 1
Art is “something that is created with imagination and skill and that is beautiful or that expresses important ideas or feelings.” – from Merriam-Webster.com. In addition, art adds value to life. C. S. Lewis, whose beautifully written, highly imaginative Chronicles of Narnia are literary works of art, wrote that these types of stories “can give us experiences we have never had and thus, instead of ‘commenting on life’, can add to it.” This sentiment applies to all of the expressive arts. Art is a way to communicate something the artist believes is worthy of saying. It may be expressed through words as poetry, storytelling and song lyrics. At times words may not be the best way to convey the message. The combination of colors on canvas, the arrangement of certain notes on a piano, or a series of arm movements, may be the best ways to communicate.
When you hear a haunting melody, gaze upon a canvas of pleasing colors or subject matter, watch a ballet, or read a poem, how do you respond? What part of your being responds? Art touches our souls. Art is a gift that artists give to the world. Art as a field of study is categorized as part of the Humanities. Philosophy and Religion are also in this category. Part of being human is being an artist, or an art appreciator. Any practice – with the right frame of mind, heart, and spirit – can be a spiritual practice and aid us in drawing closer to God. When we engage in pursuits which are Godly, in this case, creativity, we learn a little more about God’s nature.
Author Julia Cameron ends her book, Walking in This World: The Practical Art of Creativity, with these words:
“Art is a spiritual practice. We may not, and need not, do it perfectly. But we need to do it. It is my belief that the making of art makes us more fully human…It could be argued that creativity is a form of prayer, a form of thankfulness and recognition of all we have to be thankful for, walking in the world.”
In his book, Imagine That, Manuel Luz, writes that we are artists because God is.
“Thus, as artists, we are endowed with both the ability and the desire to create; and the ability to derive pleasure from it. We create because we are made in the image of the Creator. We simply cannot help it. . . We grasp at sunsets and attempt to paint them. We hear the sound of the ocean and compose sonnets in its honor. We see the autumn swans dance, and we dance.”
This course will explore the expressive arts as spiritual practices. We will discuss Beauty, Creativity, Christian Art, the Principles and Elements of Design and their spiritual applications. In closing, we will explore how we can continue to live an Artful Life. The lessons will explore how art can bring us closer to God, community, and our true selves.