Archive for February 22, 2018

If you read my title and got offended, you’re not reading it right, but at least you’re here, please read on. I saw it again on social media and it was maddening. A friend posted a study showing the correlation between making music and brain development in children. I used to work for a music education non-profit and one of the things I struggled with was the felt need to associate the study of music with other things, mainly increased test scores. Even though I understood the need to quantify things, and I didn’t hold it against the teachers, it always bothered me that teaching kids to make music wasn’t enough for some people in our culture. People acted as music in and of itself didn’t have enough value. Whatever happened to art for art’s sake?

Well (pardon the pun) I’ve changed my tune somewhat. I now question if art for art’s sake even exists. Think about it. Do people really make art just for the sake of making art, or is there something more? I mean at the very least, people make art to express something that’s going on inside them, or to comment on something in our world. As such, their work isn’t art for art’s sake, the work has a greater purpose, art for expression’s sake. At the moment I am wearing a shirt that shows the work of one of my favorite artists, Jim Henson’s Kermit the Frog. His early work with Sesame Street could be argued to be art for education’s sake and his later work was art for the sake of entertainment, communication, and sometimes art for the sake of provoking thought. Many artists do similar things. Even abstractionists usually often make their nonrepresentational work to convey emotion. Of course there are also those who do their work for the sake of commerce, and I refuse to put them down. I have taken projects at times solely for the money and I say that without apology. Everything in the arts costs money and those projects made possible other work that I otherwise could no have afforded to do.

So I don’t know if there’s art for art’s sake, so instead I determined to do (as much as is possible) art for Christ’s sake. After all, at the end of the day, He gave us this ability for that purpose. Our gifts and talents have been entrusted to us largely for the purpose of knowing Him and making Him known. Think about it. In making us creative, God gives us a small glimpse of what it’s like to be Him, in a small way calling into being that which was not. With these gifts we can spur one another on to love and good deeds, we can communicate the Gospel. We can express God’s love to the people around us. We can give the world a glimpse of His glory. So whatever you do, whatever your discipline, check your motivation. Ask yourself why you do what you do and then make art for Christ’s sake.