What Does Art Imitate?
"It is a place where a great artist, turned toward the Absolute, had the courage to paint almost nothing – and did it masterfully.” "But that was the purpose of the Chapel and Rothko’s artistic intent. Being there requires you to engage. All this black…. Is it intended for you to contemplate the great abyss? To meditate on the subtleties of the universe? To recognize the darkness of life and emerge into the Houston sunshine committed to bringing light into the world? Contemplating the massive black canvases with their hints of royal purple requires your participation – attending with your mind, heart, and soul. And that takes courage."
My family went to the Rothko Chapel yesterday and last evening we engaged in a lively debate over the nature of true art. I just don't get it. I understand the intent, the philosophy, but to call a black canvas with a hint of purple inspiring and masterful is beyond me. Maybe that's the point. The part of the quote that makes me think is "to recognize the darkness of life and emerge into the Houston sunshine committed to bringing light into the world." If it means to reflect, undistracted by the world, on my personal weakness and sin, maybe. But sitting and looking at a black canvas does little to help us recognize the depravity of the human condition, let alone direct us to the light.
Take a moment and contemplate the following pieces of art.
The human condition, the darkness of our souls is illustrated in front of us every day. The gossip of coworkers, the back biting of siblings, parental anger, spousal abuse, and the list goes on. The great atrocities of world hunger, war, and natural devastation take front stage, but our daily sin against one another eats away at our soul. Busy with life we hide behind our activities and avoid looking at the inhuman acts of those out there, of us inside. Maybe it takes a black canvas to make us stop and remember the evil inside of us, that is reflected in the world.
The gospel of John says, "In him (Jesus) was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it." What motivates us to go out into the world and shine the light of Christ in the darkness? It is knowing that the light has overcome the darkness in our own life, and if we are not overwhelmed than there is hope for the world. We are the canvas on which God has painted his greatest masterpiece, and continues to do so every day. We are the reflection of Jesus as the recreated work of God, Christ in me the hope of glory. Whatever human art you enjoy, remember that grace is the color God has painted on the canvas of your life. Now take a paintbrush and add to the story. I'm just saying.