This weekend was the annual Arts Gathering up at my church where there were two days full of great music and workshops and the whole event was FREE. Chris watched Ezra so that I could attend a couple of the workshops on Saturday afternoon, and I had so much fun that I'm thinking seriously of signing up for some writing classes at one of the bajillion local community colleges around here. I went to a creative writing workshop taught by my dear friend Susanna Childress who recently moved to Holland, Michigan where she and her husband teach at Hope College. Susanna is an incredible poet, and she has recently received her PhD in English from Florida State University. (gak!)
Her class was ridiculously enjoyable for me, and I realized that I'm one who genuinely LOVES to learn. I don't ever want to stop absorbing. I want to always be trying new things and acquiring new skills and stretching my mind to experience and embrace art that never stops challenging me.
Susanna's husband, Josh, also taught a workshop- and he spoke of how we as a society now-a-days have been taught to TURN OFF our brains when it comes to "art." Art has become nothing more than entertainment or amusement...something we can pop the top on, chug down in a few gulps, and throw away. We work hard all week just so we can make it to the weekend, where we will be able to sit in our houses and watch mindless TV or ridiculously stupid movies and not have to think about anything at all.
Josh was challenging us to start using our brains again by becoming culturally aware, knowing what's going on in our world, and seeking out art that changes the way we think and sticks with us longer than 30 seconds. There is really, really good art out there- you just have to look for it. Whether it be finding some stunning photography, or powerful writing, or new music that speaks to you, or renting some GOOD movies that deal with issues and force you to open your eyes... it's all available to you, but it requires a little digging. Dig! Dig!
So, pick up a good, classic novel! Support your local artists who are creating art that moves you! Hang art on your walls that does more than just match your couch! Join book clubs! Create art of your own! And then, share it! Have stimulating conversations over a great meal that you created! Pick up your camera or your sketchbook and wander!
Josh also spoke about how this whole process of 'expanding your horizons' can be really awkward at first... Being the 'smart kid' in school was never cool, was it? It takes GUTS to raise your hand or to try new things. But great art is important, and it's worth finding.
So, I'm going to start digging and I'm going to start creating again. I haven't written a new song in a couple (three?!!) years, and that's my first goal on the list.
What art inspires you?
What do you guys do (or want to start doing) that keeps your brains turned on?