Why Art Matters

I grew up believing art was the least important thing in life. 

Music, reading, writing—they all had to wait. Homework came first. I had to help with chores. The dog (or other pet-of-the-month) needed attention. Art sat securely at the bottom of my revolving to-do list. 

Don’t get me wrong, those other things were important. But I learned that artistic things were luxury. They were play. And one must work first and play afterwards. I repressed my art for a long time, believing it should be the lowest priority in my day. 

I repressed my art for a long time, believing it should be the lowest priority.

I’m not doing that anymore. Because I’ve discovered the true value of art. 

Art is fundamental to living. Art lifts our souls when chores and to-do lists will not. Art gives us inspiration, passion, a reason for living. Art gives us glimpses of spiritual matters and experiences. Art brings beauty into our world. And beautification matters. 

Have you ever listened to music and felt closer to God? Have you ever seen a piece of art and felt your breath catch in your throat? Have you ever cried during a movie, laughed at a TV show, applauded at the end of a concert? Have you ever been so overwhelmed by the beauty of God’s creation that you felt inspired to worship him? 

That’s what I’m talking about. Art is not just a luxury, an add-on, an extra we can squeeze into life when we have the spare time. Art is not a leftover. Art is part of our souls and spiritual beings. Art connects us with each other and with God. Expressing ourselves, giving vent to the artistic fire that burns within us, matters. 

Art is not a leftover. Art is part of our souls.

There have been times when I have felt depressed and I have watched a piece of entertainment that has made me laugh again. It sounds like a trite thing, but imagine the difference that makes to someone on their darkest day. Imagine if that piece of creativity brought someone back from the brink. Imagine if it saved someone’s life. 

When nothing else works, art can reach us. Art can save our lives. Art can bring us home. 

When nothing else works, art can reach us.

There’s a song in the movie Tick, Tick…Boom! that encapsulates this for me. The character Jonathan Larson has just received some bad news and he goes walking into the night. He finds an empty outdoor theatre and sits at the piano in the centre of the floor. And he starts to play. He sings about how he fell in love with theatre in his childhood, and how he wants to do nothing else but theatre for the rest of his life. 

As he sings the final note of the song, it begins to rain. 

That scene makes me weep. The passion of the lyrics sweeps me away. It resonates with me. It inspires me to hang on tight to the art I want to do—the art I must do—for the rest of my life. (And because it rains. There’s something emotional about rain.)

It inspires me to hang on tight to the art I want to do—the art I must do—for the rest of my life.

Now my days revolve around rest and creativity. In my spare time, I go to work and squeeze in chores and other ‘important’ things. Art gets first priority. It matters to me. And I think it matters to our Creator God too. 

How about you? What is the art that burns within you, the fire that will not go out? What is the art you want to do for the rest of your life? How does art speak to you? Share your story. Let’s have a countercultural conversation. 

2 thoughts on “Why Art Matters

  1. What an incredible missive! As someone in my 40th year of teaching others to make significant music this really resonates (pun intended) with me!

    • Love the pun! Thanks for your comment Clark; the work we do in creating art, and encouraging others to create art, really does matter. How inspiring to hear you have been doing your work for 40 years now. Keep doing what you do!

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