I don’t know if you have ever worked with clay, but its heavy… it’s difficult to work with and it takes a long time to learn to manipulate. Anyone who has ever created understands a bit of this weight, the heaviness that comes with creativity. It’s the responsibility the creator feels, not just for his creation, but for his very talent.
Artists have this bizarre ability to take ideas and turn them into something altogether different; images, emotions, sounds, a whole gambit of sensations we can barely even describe… they can wriggle up inside our brains and fiddle with the parts and make us see the world in a whole new color we’ve never even imagined…
It’s become a joke that artists are typically insecure and hyper-critical of themselves, being an artist and a writer myself, I think this is more accurate than most would like to admit, but I think this is for good reason… When people gather around a painting, taking pictures and whispering to each other, you feel the weight, you second-guess every brush stroke and wonder if they are seeing as you wanted them to… you think of how you wish you could change a certain stroke, mix a slightly different color… all the ways that the canvas on the wall isn’t quite how it ‘should’ be…
Having seen the results of my craft I feel this weight even more… I recently read a book by a pretty famous Christian pastor that has received quite a lot of publicity because of it’s atypical premise: that everything the Bible says about Heaven and Hell is false. I’m not going to address this book here because it’s far too broad a topic for a blog, but what strikes me is the power the writer has over his readers! He quotes a few scriptures, throws out some Hebrew words nobody knows and twists everything to fit what he is wanting us to see… to make people believe what he wants to teach.
This is the weight of the clay. As an artist, I believe it is my job to open closed eyes to the truth that surrounds us. As a Christian I believe this means communicating what we are taught in the scriptures, NOT changing the scriptures to back up our art.
Truth should influence art, not the other way around.
One day, every artist will be asked to give an account for ever word they wright, for ever brush stroke, for every chord or pirouette. We will be asked to show what we did with the gifts trusted to us.
I feel sad for this pastor because he doesn’t feel the weight of his clay… and I feel sad for all of his readers who will.