Honest Art / by Louis Holstein

I recently watched the video below and found that by the end of it, my life was changed. And although I am of the more theatrical slice of humanity, trust me when I say, this video can truly change your life too! Before I say anymore, check it out! 

Why do we need art? The only way we approach God is if we’re honest through metaphor, through symbol. Art becomes essential, not decorative.
— Bono

The quote above is actually from another video of Bono interacting with the Psalms. (You can find all of these amazing videos here). In the past year I have been struggling to digest art "correctly." What I mean by this is that for so long I had been putting art into two categories: good and bad. Good art, by my definition, was art that made me feel something, art that was an accurate piece of reality. Bad art, simply, was the opposite of good art. It was flaky, slimy, and preachy. However, what I found, after some great dialogue with different FriendsArtists, was that I was missing something. How could I dismiss someone's creation as "good or bad" as if it was on some sort of pass/fail system. Art is someone's point of view, someone's opinion; opinions are not debatable. Chelsea Young (Museam Director/Curator at the Mulberry Cultural Center) pointed out to me that while art cannot be judged on a good/bad scale, the technique that the artist used certainly can be! Okay, so then how, aside from technique, can I digest and talk about art? The video above inspired the answer:

I can ask, "Is it honest?"

This simple question is the first thing I think to myself as I carefully consume the art around me. Great art, I'm learning, is honest. It bleeds. It takes a piece of the artist with it, once it is completed and eventually delivered. This is the first thing I ask myself on the art that I create. Am I being honest in my songwriting, in my poetry, in my curating? This is what has been missing from "christian art" (the term gives me the hebbie-jebbies)! So often it is art that is not honest. There is such a correlation to the way we interact with our Creator (solely through honesty, as God knows all things), and the way we should interact with our art. I personally want what I create to be timeless, and inspire others to create and live passionately. I cannot do this I am not honest. 

As I continue my journey with art, I have a new plumb line, a new standard. It's not just a search for art that moves, it is a quest for the art that is honest.