This text was created in partnership with InterVarsity Press.
Art is an inspiration and an escape. Artwork soothes the soul, broadens the thoughts, and renews our religion within the goodness of life. And if artwork is such an ethereal and enchanting factor, absolutely artists and artwork lovers should reside on one other aircraft of existence altogether, excessive above the remainder of us.
The reality isas biographies, historical past books, and information tales reinforce again and again againthat artists and artwork lovers reside lives simply as messy as anybody elses. Typically messier. Painfully messy, in actual fact.
Its perpetually troublesome for individuals who love their creativity to know and to reconcile it with their darkish sides.
One thing in us, one thing that desires reality and sweetness all the time to stroll serenely hand in hand, rebels on the thought that the artist who painted that chic panorama was a jerk to his spouse. Or that the composer or author whose work has pulled us by way of so many darkish occasions had darkness in his or her personal soul. How can this be true? How can two such extremes exist in a single individual? How, because the Bible would put it, can mild have any fellowship with darkness?
It appears as if theres one thing concerning the potential to see, hear, and really feel deeply that makes life too intense to bear calmly. As The Scientific American put it, Extra inventive folks embody extra occasions/stimuli of their psychological processes than much less inventive folks. . . . It appears that evidently the important thing to inventive cognition is opening up the flood gates and letting in as a lot data as doable.However an excessive amount of data could be, effectively, an excessive amount of data. Few on this trendy age are absolutely geared up to deal with the deluge of sensory experiences and feelings that drive probably the most inventive amongst us.
That depth doesnt all the time correlate with sickness or result in harmful habits, however all too often, there’s a connection. Everyone knows the tales: Beethoven descending into deafness, despair, and rage. Van Goghs self-mutilation and eventual self-destruction. Then there are the celebrities, from Judy Garland to Marilyn Monroe to Elvis Presley to Kurt Cobain to Whitney Houston, all succumbing to drug or alcohol habit. We all know concerning the egocentric and unhealthy behaviors of lots of our best artists, and their tragic fallout within the lives of others. Its perpetually troublesome for individuals who love their creativity to know and to reconcile it with their darkish sides.
However Christians of all folks ought to perceive, a minimum of slightly. We profess to consider that every one of us have darkness inside usso a lot darkness that Christs dying is the one hope we have now. So once we see the wrestle between hope and despair writ giant within the lives and work of artists, we must always acknowledge it. Greater than that, we must always determine with it and know that its the wrestle that makes their work, and its results on us, so highly effective.
In Sharon Garlough Browns new novel, Shades of Gentle, protagonist Wren Crawford is an achingly delicate younger girl, coping with psychological sickness of her personal at the same time as she tries to assist others in her profession as a social employee. On the occasions when her struggling is worst, Wren clings not solely to her remedy and medicine, however to somebody whose work and life are tremendously significant to her: Vincent Van Gogh.
Its not simply that shes interested in Van Goghs artwork; Wren additionally identifies with the messiness of his lifehis personal battle in opposition to psychological sickness (a lot much less understood and fewer treatable in his time), the pressure it placed on his relationships along with his family members, the way in which it broken and eventually ended his profession in ministry. Like Vincent, Wren sees and feels with an depth that may deepen her compassion but in addition spill uncontrollably into all areas of her life, turning into greater than she will deal with on her personal.
Shed even written her faculty honors thesis on the potent spirituality of his artwork and the chiaroscuro of his sorrowing, rejoicing life, Brown writes, the shadows of despair streaked by what he referred to as a ray from on excessive.
Chiaroscuro derives from the Italian phrases for mild and darkish. Van Gogh had an intimate data of the painful conflict between darkness and lighthow it fuels ones artwork even because it fractures ones life. Many artists share that data. Typically these forces can harmonize; typically they develop dissonant and clanging. Typically they appear to do each on the identical time, just like the late Beethoven string quartets that shocked and appalled lots of his contemporaries however now are hailed as avant-garde.
Typically we could be introduced again from the brink by the reminder that somebody we admire felt the darkness too. The ache, anguish, and darkness of nice artwork and nice artists may even level us to the cross the place Christ, whose personal mild was by no means dimmed, had the worst expertise of darkness that anybody ever might.
Artand artistsmay not all the time have escape, consolation, and lightweight to supply. However even once they dont, they could have a voice that reaches us in our personal deepest and darkest locations.
Sharon Garlough Brown’s newest novel, Shades of Gentle, printed by InterVarsity Press, is now accessible.