In my repetitive habit of checking BBC News, I came across an ‘in Pictures’ article where Stephen Lovekin (photographer) has started photographing families isolating in Brooklyn, New York. All the families and individuals are framed by their window and everyone is holding a message to the camera. See the photo-artical here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/in-pictures-52040206
This last photo touched me.
It’s a picture of an older lady who is the artist Shirley Fuerst. It’s a black and white photo which gives an air of eeriness and the reflection on the window highlights the distant between her and the photographer insinuating the social distancing and the isolation. The old paintwork on the window frame is cracking a little bit. She stands straight in rebellion to her old age and the window frame frames her perfectly. She looks attentively into the camera holding an air of confidence, certainty and a hint of warmth. This is confirmed by the message she has written on a small whiteboard she’s holding. In her own handwriting it says;
“Upbeat – Art Saves!”
My first reaction was to mentally fist pump into the air and celebrate that she has shown the world that art matters more than ever in these times. Art is a form of human communication, a manifestation, it stretches its octopus like tentacles to our very heart, to our deepest desires, dreams, hopes, curiosities, questions, anxieties, depression. When we view art it helps us identify, feel less lonely; it takes us out of ourselves. Making art helps us to really look, play, discover, be imaginative and express ourselves in other ways than in words.
As Shirley Fuerst says herself… “I'm trying to expand what sculpture can say. There are things in nature which are so fragile and so complex and so momentary, that it becomes at once both difficult and exciting to try to use them as a subject. I not only want to use these subjects, but also to add something which embodies that burst of energy, that spirit within nature… Still, that remains my central purpose as an artist, to use my sculptures as poetic responses to the fragile web of life, to all I discover in the world around me”.
Photo: Shirley Fuerst inside one of her sculptures. http://www.shirleymfuerst.com/bio.html
Art is important and I do feel strongly that creativeness can really help us in this current crisis. It can steady our nerves, give us perspective, offer us great comfort and inspiration. But the power of art is only a slight reflection or a sign pointing to someone much more beautiful, awesome and profound. It points toward the Creator itself, (with a big C), the inventor of art and creativity, the original Master, the architect of imagination, the Designer of all humans and the entire world around us; the Author of history, the loving Father who saves his family, through Jesus the Son. The God of the Bible gives us meaning and a reason to love and value life and in turn value art. As we enjoy or make art (that will hopefully keep us sane throughout this weird period), let’s not forget who gave this gift to us, let’s not ignore our Father who cares for us always and calls us closer to Him.
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