I’ve never considered myself to be much of an artist. In school it was always the math and sciences that I excelled at. And yet during our grade eight graduation ceremony the awards for the subjects I thought I was good at went to others. I was not surprised by that; what surprised me was the mention of my name as winner of the art award. What me? Seriously?
I can trace the winning of that award back to one particular assignment in art class. I had missed a class and so my fellow students were way ahead of me on a new project. I was too lazy to get up and ask the teacher what the project was (I have never been in the running for a gym award –no pun intended) so I asked my chums. The response was simply “paint some people in an elevator.” Seeing as I was already way behind, I chose to paint only two people. Because I had only two people I thought I’d better make it interesting, so I made one a punk and the other a priest. Since I was actually finished too early, I proceeded to fill the elevator with graffiti.
Upon completion of our assignments my art teacher was so enthused he held up my painting for everyone to see and said something like; “although I had asked you to paint a crowded elevator, Clarke has chosen to very creative and show a contrast using only two people.” Oops, I hadn’t realized this thing was supposed to be crowded, and as for creativity, I was creatively trying to figure out how get out of doing a lot of work. Oh well, I’ll take the award.
My marks in art class plummeted the next year in high school. I didn’t do any better in gym class either.
There are many of us who don’t believe we have the potential to be artists. That’s for those people who are “creative” we say; creative with their hands, their words, their music. And yet I believe God calls all of us to be creative. In Genesis the Bible speaks of God creating humanity on the sixth day: “Then God said, ‘Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.’ So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them” (Genesis 1:26-27 NRSV).
Now there are myriad suggestions put forth as to what it means to be created in the image of God and I would like to think that it does refer to a great many things. One thing I do believe it refers to is our creativity. Watch for the things that separate us humans out from every other living creature. Surely one of the most striking is our creativity.
I love our dog Phideau. He’s a very sophisticated mutt, as you can likely tell from how he prefers his name to be spelled. But he’s not particularly creative, especially not compared to my three boys who very naturally express creativity every day, creatively bringing their father both joy and exasperation!
There’s something different about humanity. We are creative, and as such we reflect our creative God. We are created in the image of the Creator. Unfortunately, our creativity is sometimes channeled in ways that are destructive towards our world and humanity and the word “fall” comes to mind. Thankfully, sometimes that creativity brings life and the word “restoration” – or “redemption” – is more apt.
So we all have the potential to be creative, to be artistic. Does that mean we should pick up some brushes and a canvas, or a musical instrument, or paper and pen (yes I’m old enough to know what they are!). Not necessarily, but it does mean we should watch for those opportunities to let creativity spring out.
Are you a parent? How can you nurture your child with creativity? Are you bored? Get creative in figuring that out. Is your prayer life dull or non-existent? Get creative with it! Are you in a fight with someone, especially someone close? Get creative in working that out. Are you old, young, strong, weak, employed, unemployed, single, married? Whatever situation we find ourselves in, we are created in the image of the Creator, and can be creative. Time to get creative and let the artist in each of us touch every area of life and community. Of course when we are at a complete loss as to how to connect with our creative side, we can always go to the Creator for some help!