Tuesday, July 29, 2014

I Am, It Is

Living in Texas, every evening is a reason to celebrate because the sun setting in the sky is one of the most magnificent things you will ever see. There are songs written about it, “if you haven’t seen a hill country sunset, you ain’t met me Texas yet,” (thanks JAB). There are Instagram hastags devoted to it—#nofilter #texasforever. And yet, when we see these scenes, what do we automatically think?

“That looks like a painting!”

“It looks like it’s in HD!”

Wait, hold up, what? Real life looks like what?
If you stop to think about it, these unfiltered photos don’t look like a painting. These sunsets, or any other beautiful landscapes, don’t look like they’re in HD. The images in HD, the paintings we see in museums, are made to imitate real life.

As a Christian, I feel as if we are insulting God when we think these things because we’re saying that He, the Creator of the Universe, the maker of the sun and stars, is imitating something made by man. This kind of thinking needs to be reversed! We need to be automatically thinking:

“Wow! Not even a painting could justify this sunset!”

“The clarity of my TV can’t even begin to compare to the clarity of these clouds!”

Oscar Wilde introduced an argument in his essay, The Decay of Lying, in 1889 that “Life imitates Art more than Art imitates Life.” He argues that we wouldn’t see the London fog (or a Texas sunset in the case of this blog) as beautiful without the songs written or artwork painted.

At present, people see fogs, not because there are fogs, but because poets and painters have taught them the mysterious loveliness of such effects. There may have been fogs for centuries in London. I dare say there were. But no one saw them, and so we do not know anything about them. They did not exist till Art had invented them.

I have really been battling, as an artist, to reconcile how and why I see the world the way I do. Do I see things the way they are because I’ve been conditioned to? Do I see them for what they are? Does life imitate art? Does art imitate life?

But what I really need to do is reconcile this with my belief in God. If I believe that there is a God, then this goes back to the first part of this blog post: “Not even a painting could justify this sunset!” Art has to be the imitation of life because to be anything less would be not just an insult to the faith I proclaim, but a rejection of it. To believe that a sunset would be anything less than beautiful because I don’t have any realization of it would be saying that God did not create the beautiful sunset but I did through my awareness of it. I am not God. I do not create these beautiful things. I am simply a spectator of creation. Art imitates life.

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