I’m going to be really honest here.
I don’t always know what I’m doing.
Especially in the way of being an artist in residence at a church. I have no models to go on. There aren’t any church artist in residence clubs to bat around ideas with. There’s no handbook. It’s really a new road constantly before me.
And I think when you work at a church you feel obligated to church work kind of things – aka being on your computer looking busy. Granted some of my job has to do with meetings, branding, creative guidance, and dealing with people…. so computer work is okay. But I had this interesting experience yesterday where I didn’t have any computer work to do. And we are in the midst of changing buildings so I don’t want to do anything on our existing residence. All I could think about doing was painting.
It seemed wrong. It seemed like I was wasting time or being irresponsible for just sitting in my studio all day working on a new painting. Although this is what I’m supposed to do, right? I’m supposed to be the artist in residence. That intrinsically means that I will be creating work. Not just hour long paintings at a service. Not just things to help describe the childrens ministry. No. Real work. Work to hang in galleries in town. Work to inspire, contemplate, wrestle with.
And that work, my friends, takes time.
(Quick side note…. nobody on staff once yesterday questioned how I was spending my time. This is all my own crazy emotions. )
It’s taken me a long time to realize that what I do as an artist is I make stuff. If you widdle it down to the smallest description, that’s what I do. I make things. I translate and process the world through the medium of art. This is what I feel like my best participation in the human journey is. This is not some flighty emotional passion. This is a knowing in the deepest sense. A complete right-ness in a seemingly meaningless existence. And…. I’ve come to be okay with that mantle. Admitingly it feels like it has a built in poverty aspect to it, but whatever. This is the inward compelling calling that I’ve given myself too.
The fact that Ecclesia honors that and wants to support the time that’s needed to bring something forth is amazing. They see something in me that they want to support. Their invitation was “come and do what you do and do it with us”. I asked “what I would do?”, and they responded “do want you think you need to do.” That’s a lot of faith in the work of the artist. They get it… mostly because the key leadership are artists in their own right.
Time and space is what it takes to make stuff. Time to think, create, fabricate. Space to work, move, be, display, present.
If the Church in America ever really wants to help promote the arts… it’s going to take that investment in artists to have the time and space to make stuff. I hope communities of faith who consider this work important contemplate a way in which to do this.
As for me, I’ll keep creating. Cause that’s what I do. I make stuff.