June 15, 2010

Image as Insight: Limited Freedom

This week, Baya Clare, a Sister of St. Joseph of Carondelet invites us to contemplate how self-surrender is both a spiritual practice and part of the artistic process.

While sorting and organizing stuff in my house this week, I found a little booklet entitled Visual Artists developed by the National Center for the Laity and published by ACTA (Assisting Christians to Act) back in 1995. It's part of a series on the Spirituality of Work. Other booklets were written for business people, homemakers, lawyers, nurses, teachers and unemployed workers.

Visual Artists, written by Chicago-based artist John Dylong, was a quick read that left me wanting a bit more depth. Nevertheless, there are some real gems in it. Here's one that resonated with me:

"Artists create best when yielding to limits: their own and those of their materials. This allows them to be open to new solutions. Artists often experience this conscious self-surrender. In order for an artist to be open to the creative muse, there must be an emptiness. With this 'letting go' comes freedom and creativity."

And isn't that true? Coming to know our limits, and learning there is infinite freedom in that knowledge is central to the Christian journey. The things I create never look like I think they will, but they turn out okay anyway, mostly. Sometimes the results are really surprising. It's always a process of working with and not against the thread, or the paint, or the camera, while living within the limits of my skill, patience, and sometimes even my physical endurance.

"It is God who has made us, and not we ourselves."
Psalm 100: 3

Photo: Who Needs Diamonds? (Baya Clare)

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