“Art is a distinct and irreplaceable way of knowing the world because it alone unlike science or philosophy uses and engages the fullness of our humanity”
“But surely arrested development consists not in refusing to lose old things but in failing to add new things.”
To grow ourselves in the art of living we must learn to engage with Art. Adding to our knowledge is what makes growing up fun and full of adventure and meaning.
One of the reasons we keep our distance from art is that we lack skill and knowledge on how to approach it. I spent many visits to museums to observe and reflect on art and would often walk away wishing I had a way to search the depths of what I had witnessed more effectively. I wanted to know the value in what I was seeing, to be able to integrate the mind and senses in a meaningful and relevant way. In her groundbreaking work on Art, Saving Leonardo, Nancy Pearcey writes “the truth is that artists interact deeply with the thought of their day.” The “thought of their day” or the lens through which an artist sees can be studied and that knowledge applied to allow us to plumb the depths of the artist’s intentions and to interact in a way that helps us to walk away richer in knowledge and understanding.
Pearcey goes on to write that we can expect to find in Giotto and Fra Angelico a display of “incarnational theology”, or in Vermeer, the beauty and sanctity of every day activities. Would you explore the work of Rubens with more enthusiasm if you knew that “as a devout Catholic, he was expressing the biblical concept that creation carries the weight of spiritual glory”? What if in art you could see the war of ideas played out in battles across the canvas? Through the great artists we can trace the crystalizing of ideas which form entire eras. And as new philosophies emerge and compete, we can witness those struggles as well.
Study to show thyself approved:
Why is it important for us to study and interact with art in this way? We enjoy and are drawn to art because we like our Creator and are creative. As creatives in the 21st century, we are in the business of what Kenneth Myers brilliantly refers to as the recovery of beauty. In fact, Myers says “the recovery of a genuine Christian culture requires the recovery of beauty. If we understand the relationship between the artist and thought, we can enter into their created space and empathize with their struggle and joy. We can appreciate their insights and commentary on worldview. Through Art we broaden our empathetic capabilities and gain insight into the human condition, especially our own.
Reorienting our minds as artists:
What if a recovery of beauty led to a deeper understanding of our eternal nature? What if we could through art return to reality?
“Art is a return to reality. Art is a distinct and irreplaceable way of knowing …the world, intellect, senses, emotion, intuition, our memory and our physical body-not separately but together: simultaneously, holistically.”
Kate resides in Newport Beach, CA. After pursuing a music degree at Trinity University and Indiana University she currently studies at HBU in the Master of Arts in Apologetics program. She is a full time homeschooling mother of four, two of whom have graduated to college (Cornell and LMU). She is also a professional singer performing regularly with the Pacific Symphony and Pacific Chorale. Kate gives regular recitals in Art Song and Opera and conducts the St Matthew’s Choristers at St Matthews Anglican Church in Newport Beach where they study Latin, Liturgy and Music. Her newest projects are the establishing of The Children’s Conservatory at St Matthew’s Montessori school and… as a contributing writer to Literary Life!