Tuesday, June 17, 2008
M.C. Escher, "Hand With Reflecting Sphere"
I'm quoting this from the September 2007 issue of Touchstone: A Journal of Mere Christianity:
There is nothing that stifles genius like the concepts of originality or creativity as they are usually understood, for as soon as one lifts his[/her] hand intentionally to create something unique, he[/she] falls into -- and the oxymoron is deliberate here -- a new convention. Visit the dreary halls of the art department in the typical modern university. (After seeing them myself, I must ask, where does the artist go who is in love with nature, indeed, who is in love with the form of any thing?)
If our understanding of God is true, then man [and woman] cannot create; he[/she] can only procreate, and only in the sphere of procreation can genius express itself as such -- as something that listens before it speaks and repeats what it hears. The kind of creation that follows is an ecstatic addition of the self that arises unbidden from the depths of the created personality.
The artist can only make something new when he[/she] acts as though there is nothing new under the sun, and when, with the gift he[/she] finds within him, rejoices in what already is. This is why the greatest art never surpasses the making of children, which is its essence, and why the artist who begins his[/her] work in the attempt to overcome "convention" will generate nothing but monstrosities.
-- S.M. Hutchens, page 5
This is an intriguing idea, yet an ancient one. The Biblical motif found in Ecclesiastes -- "there is nothing new under the sun" -- can help the artist to rise above frustration and limitation to the discovery of the utmost freedom possible for the artistic eye and mind. There is indeed "nothing new under the sun;" but art is the expression of something familiar, via the written word or visual image, that transforms the ordinary into the extraordinary. Art helps us to see what is right under our proverbial noses with new revelation, fresh insight, surprising accuracy. It reveals Truth in all things -- brings to us unique thoughts regarding what has always been within our realm of experience and always will be. That's the gift of art.