Monday, November 15, 2010

Art in New York City

I'm reading Refractions, a Journey of Faith, Art and Culture by Makoto Fujimura.  My copy is already dog-eared, highlighted, and interspersed with my own sketches.  I really enjoy my books.  Check out this book, it'll really make you think.

Makoto is an artist that lives three blocks from Ground Zero in New York City.  We were just up there this weekend, so I picked up my book again and began rereading.  He writes about living in the City as an artist and as a Christian - in a city that needs hope after 9-11.

The following is an excerpt from his pages:
"Leo Tolstoy, the Russian author of War and Peace, wrote in What is Art?:

'The task of art is enormous.  Through the influence of real art, aided by science, guided by religion, that peaceful cooperation of man which is now maintained by external means - by our law-courts, police, charitable institutions, factory inspection, and so forth, - should be obtained by man's free and joyous activity.  Art should cause violence to be set aside.'

Art "should cause violence to be set aside" because to Tolstoy, who wrote under totalitarian oppression, art expresses the desire for, and instinct toward, freedom, justice, and beauty.  Tolstoy's argument for this ideal for the arts continues:  "The destiny of art in our time is to transmit from the realm of reason to the realm of feeling the truth."  In other words, the language of the arts translates the universal longing for peace into the tangible experience of the desire for peace. The arts provide us with language for mediating the broken relational and cultural divides: the arts can model for us how we need to value each person as created in the image of God."

We went to Ground Zero.  It's no longer a zone of destruction, but one of construction - of hope.  There is always hope. We are created in the image of God, and each one of us special.  Made in His image, we are creative beings, so our natural response to the world around us is to be creative ourselves.  I agree with Makato.  As artists, let's work toward giving hope to this world that so desperately needs it.

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