Sunday, April 29, 2012

Authenticity


I remember sitting next to the new girl in fifth grade while we quietly both drew our best pictures during class.  The competition was pretty even until she came along and shook the apple cart.  I remember impressing classmates with the same picture of hills, the sun, a blue sky, and the occasional tree.   

She was drawing ducks and chickens precisely from memory.  Jealousy struck me down.  This wonderful artist followed me through school for seven more years. We even shared Art I, II, and III in high school.  I watched her improve, and eventually become the teacher’s pet senior year while I was scrambling to get my projects turned in…usually late.  What I learned from this was that I needed to stretch myself, but I wasn't sure how.
  
  a highschool art project

In college I took an art workshop class that definitely accomplished that.  Two guys who had already done the job of “stretching themselves” criticized my cookie cutter artwork, leaving lasting words like “it looks like something I’d find on my Grandma’s end table” and “I’ve seen all this before” while slamming my beautiful, handmade sketchbook closed in front of my face…and everyone else in the class.  I was so proud of that thing!

What I learned from my teachers was how and why to be authentic.  As cheesy as it sounds, I learned that the end result isn't as important as the process.  My work didn't have to be beautiful.  They just wanted it to be a journey rather than a repetitive equation used to keep me safe from judgement.  It was a hard lesson in "accepting criticism".  I mean really accepting criticism...like being so okay with it that rather than running home and crying to someone about how big of a failure I was, I decided to have a heart to heart with my stubborn ways, allowing it to soak in and impact me in a positive way.

In a time when art is all over the map, I believe the key ingredient to being an artist is authenticity, and it can be practiced in all avenues of life.  I discovered that my relationships and everyday living could use a good dose of it, too.  The monotonous hill and sky picture did the trick in fifth grade:  It impressed my peers (the ones I could barely speak to, because I was probably the quietest girl in school).  All I wanted was for people to like me.  I wasn’t actually concerned with being an artist of any sort.  Sure, I’ve always loved creativity,  but even more than that…I now love authentic creativity...the kind that is cultivated by a deeper strength and confidence.  That is something that honors our souls.  Honoring the soul above honoring the desire to simply be liked is something I was not only pushed to learn from my college professors, but from God.  He teaches authenticity (and strength) like no one else.  Jesus draws the true artist out in all of us.


THIS is an awesome article that goes along with the idea of this post by Relevant Magazine:
"Made in the Image of God"?

----When we fully grasp what it means to bear God's image, we are at once struck with the grandeur of our possibilities and the tragedy of our unrealized potential. To be fully human is to fully reflect God's creative, spiritual, intelligent, communicative, relational, moral and purposeful capacities, and to do so holistically and synergistically. Furthermore, though all humans possess these godlike capacities, each of us has the potential to express them distinctively, because God's image has been imprinted uniquely on each of us. In God's infinite creativity there are no duplicates; you are the only you there has ever been or ever will be. 

Reprinted by permission of the publisher, John Wiley & Sons, Inc., from About You, by Dick Staub. This article was adapted from pages 29-37. Copyright © 2010 by John Wiley & Sons, Inc.----
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