Saturday, October 16, 2010

Reflection on the Conversation of Art and Nature

My family recently took a Fall Break trip to Nashville to Cheekwood Gardens, one of my favorite places to enjoy a fascinating interplay of art and nature. It's a mansion built by a family who began the Maxwell House coffee company. It has been converted to a museum and botanical gardens.

I love the nature and art trails and the way this place brings them together in sort of a holy conversation. God has created such a beautiful world. Art is meant not to detract from the world's beauty but to enhance it, to express the beauty that already is, to call attention to it, to capture its rhythms in a moment of time.

Last week, there was a Chihuly exhibit. He is an internationally known glass artist. What astounded me is the way he blended his art into the natural surroundings. I have never seen such a careful and creative interplay. It was of course fascinating to learn how he and his team made these incredible displays of colored glass. But I was sent into some thoughtful meditation by the displays themselves on the grounds. This blog post contains a few photographs I took. I especially loved the way he incorporated art into greenery and fountain.

I am not personally gifted as a visual artist, but I am an auditory artist. I love music and enjoy giving a large portion of my creative energy to making the world more beautiful.

But this incredible display left me wondering. How do I share my gift of art in a way that dances with nature? With the rhythms of the soul and human life? How can the art of the church bring our soul's natural desire for expression to life?

I recently wrote a hymn for Easter for a hymn writer's contest. It was a joy to bring the song into being in a way that hopefully brings the story, the holy narrative, to life. I was touched that the Easter sightings in the scriptures bring holiness to the regular, mystery to the messiness of life. Writing it reminded me that finding new life in the ways and patterns of real living is what Easter is all about, and for me, this is the power of the story. I look forward to sharing the hymn in my next blog post.