The Dark Studio
March 21, 2022
“You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matt 5:14-16
The Tucson Art Walks of 2022 have begun again, and I was able to visit a few studios. There was a lot going on. Tucson has a lot of artists filling the many studio spaces around the city, and you can find a lot of quality work. It is also a very mixed bag. Art is not just about creating an image of what we see. Art is very much about communication. It is an effort by the artists to communicate their thoughts, ideas, and feeling to the people who view their work. Art therefore is as diverse as the people who create it.
Years ago, when I went to art school there was a general feeling that painting was dead. There was a common thought that art had transcended the traditional two-dimensional wall hung image and moved into more conceptual areas that sought to redefine the art space. In 2022, I am glad to see that artists still paint. They still draw and they still create using many traditional methods. However, there remains a need, deep in the heart of every artist, to express ourselves in new and unique ways. Artists are by nature rule breakers. They run to the unexpected; they live in the upside-down world; they look at life with a kaleidoscope to find meaning in the meaningless. This can lead to some interesting results. It can also lead to some very dark places.
Not all of what I saw this past weekend should be applauded. Most of what I saw was representative of a people who are still searching. Searching without knowing what they are looking for. This is not at all a comment on the quality of the work. It is a recognition of the spiritual state of the artists themselves. There was a palpable feeling of being lost for words or visionlessness in much of the work. There is a lot of creating, which is much like searching, but without a lot of clear direction in the work that I saw. What concerned me most was the lack of Christians in the studios. I know that not every Christian artist puts up a sign in their studio to tell people they are Christians. Now that I say that I am going to have to do that this week. But the artist community needs more Christians shinning a light in that darkness.
When I first came to Tucson, I had visited several studio spaces looking to rent, but there were no spaces available. Saturday night my first thought was that perhaps it was for the best after all the spiritual climate of a location is a significant consideration when choosing a studio location. As much as the artist in me is repulsed by the repeated employment of tired clichés used ad nauseam, I will remind my readers that it is better to light one candle than to sit and curse the darkness. We should be the change we want to see in the world. You’ve gotta dance like there’s nobody watching; Love like you’ll never be hurt; Sing like there’s nobody listening; And live like it’s heaven on earth. Ok that was over kill, but it was to make a point.
Matthew reminds us in his gospel, and I quoted it above, that we are the light of the world. The reason the arts community in Tucson is so dark is that there are not enough lights shinning in it. Christian artists just don’t go there. Right now, there is not much opportunity to rent space downtown. Studio space is tough to find but the idea here is that the arts community can be a bit dark only because of a lack of light. “A man’s gift makes room for him, And brings him before great men.” Proverbs 18:16 God has a purpose for your skills and artistic abilities. Whether it is painting, drawing, photography, music, theater, or writing there is a place that God has for you to shine. The first step might be to go through 4Tucson’s Purpose Workshop and clarify what God has designed you to be. The workshop is a starting point to get you moving toward a very targeted plan to be used by God as a light in the darkness. You may not move to a new studio space, but you will move to a new place in the spirit that will use your gifting.
After the workshop you can join the Media&ARTS domain and become part of a community of like-minded artists who will support your goals and help you step into the place that God has already prepared for you. Please join us. “The harvest is great and the workers few.” Luke 10:2
The purpose of the Prayer Domain is to inspire and motivate people to know God intimately and create a culture of prayer so that the will of God is done in Tucson as it is in Heaven.