Thursday, October 23, 2008

Art Music Justice Tour

This is my first attempt at blogging of any sort, and my hope is that this will turn into a dialogue among fellow artists and also those who wouldn't necessarily consider themselves in the artistic camp. Much has been written about the relationship of art of faith, and many of those who address this issue may do so more coherently. My desire is to engage with others who are working out their unique artistic gifts, and integrating those gifts with the calling of following Christ. Art is such a broad concept, and art is approached by both the artist and "art consumer" from a myriad of perspectives. These approaches range from the idea of art for art's sake to art as purely a communicative medium. Last night I attended a benefit concert that in my opinion blended these to perspectives.

The Art*Music*Justice Tour was born out of the vision of several musicians. It's purpose was to heighten awareness of certain social justice issues, and to provide audience members with an avenue of response by giving to two ministries - Food For the Hungry and International Justice Mission. Sara Groves, Charlie Peacock, Derek Webb, Sandra McCracken and Brandon Heath joined musical forces to speak on behalf of the weak and oppressed. These artists wielded their craft like a double edged sword, integrating high caliber musical and visual artistry with the power of story. The effect was a meaningful meditative evening that culminated in a clear call to action on behalf of the poor and oppressed. There were many layers of conversation that were explored from this diverse group of Christian musicians. Sandra McCracken reminded us that suffering is a thread that binds all humans together. Her song "Lock and Key" was especially poignant. Her husband Derek Webb played a bit of the questioning status quo rebel role, and stirred us with sarcastic silver bullets. He jabbed at political interpretations of salvation and left us with a bit of salty truth to savor. Brandon Heath became more than just a face to me, and it was moving to hear seemed to have been created in the deeper regions of Mr. Heath's soul some of his songs getting more radio play. The highlights of the evening for me were when Charlie Peacock and Sara Groves anchored the second half of the concert. To be a few feet from these wellsprings of creativity and artistic excellence brought me to a place of joy that I rarely encounter. I realized again that I need artistic community, that art is important both as a vehicle for a message, but also just because it marks us as image bearers of the Original Artist. Charlie Peacock made a passing comment about the visual artistry displayed on three screens behind the stage, that I have been chewing on ever since. He alluded to the pictures being beautiful in and of themselves-- good art regardless of their attachment to the cause. I got the feeling that he and the other artists reveled in their musical gifts, that in their childlike joy, they were somehow bringing glory to our Creator, just by being and who He created them to be. I think that this is such an often forgotten concept in a production, goal oriented world. I wonder in what ways did God create me as a musician to revel in the joy of creativity? I wonder how often I stifle that joy? I wonder how I can forget it when I have young children who delight in cutting pasting, gluing and glittering every day of their lives? How does it get turned into some perfectionistic ego-laden endeavor, when it's meant to simply be a joyful expression the divine spark?