I have spoken previously of how I am currently in a "renaissance" of sorts and part of that has been comprised of books. Many books. I thought I would share a bit of what I've been reading lately, and how each book has inspired specific areas of my life.
The first book I read that really launched me into creating-mode was Mark Pierson's The Art of Curating Worship.
The Art of Curating Worship pushed me into a corner and challenged everything I thought I knew about worship service planning, and Christian art. Pierson shares his opinion candidly and brings new passion, and purpose to the artist's role in the church. I didn't agree with everything, but overall it pushed me into action.
In fact, from this book "Communitas" was born, a Photography exhibit I curated for my lovely wife. (It will be debuting March 1, 2018, at the Mulberry Cultural Center).
Life Together by the famed pastor/martyr Dietrick Bonhoeffer opened my eyes to the importance of Community, and also what true community looks like.
This impacted my insight into the arts profoundly because I had never understood the role of community in the artist's life so comprehensively.
This was the second book I read after The Art of Curating Worship, so it was only natural that a lot of the "Communitas" Exhibit was from out of this text as well. (Hence the theme of community).
Makoto Fujimura's Cultural Care is unlike anything I have ever read. He packs profound insight and academic thought on art, culture, and our role with both into a rather short book (only 100 pages). Yet, because there is so much to extract, each page will need to be read at least twice for the ideas to become imbedded with you.
"Having a positive outlook in adversity should be one of the main factors you consider in recognizing your call. Rather than giving up because of the many, many closed doors we face as artists, and rather than being angry at the world for 'our art not meeting the needs of the world,' we can rejoice in our look, as it is ultimately God, the grand artist, who will answer our call, and provide bread for our journey." (p.100)
Ignore Everybody And 39 Other Keys to Creativity was a recommendation from Austin Kleon in the back of his How to Steal Like an Artist. This book had me laughing far to often. Hugh MacLeod's is piercingly honest, and pulls no punches in his skin-tearing sarcasm. Yet between the laughs and punches to the gut, I learned a great deal from this book and in a very short amount of time. In fact, it left me wanting more ( I now turn to his blog to get my fix).
This book will always be on my top shelf for artistic inspiration. My favorite quotes: "Never compare your inside with somebody else's outside." (p.55) and "The more original your idea is, the less good advice other people will be able to give you... Good ideas alter the power balance in relationships. That is why good ideas are always initially restricted." (p.1-2)
To round out my list is Andy Crouch's Culture Making. I had actually already read this book about 3 years ago, and found it so inspiring, I gave it to a dear FriendArtist. It wasn't until this past Christmas that I attained it again and was able to revisit it (yes I bought it twice, it's that good).
Crouch brings a practical approach to the behemoth topic that is "culture," and how we can interact with, and even influence it. One of my favorite parts of this book is a concept he talks about early on: gestures. The gestures of approaching culture are condemning, critiquing, consuming, and copying. Many times these gestures can turn into postures, which prevent us from actually creating culture. The idea challenged me as an artist to always be in one of the gestures, but only making my posture in creating.