Most people love art because of the way our favorite works cause us to feel. For instance, there’s something special that happens when I hear the song “Bad Mama Jama” by Carl Carlton. Suddenly, nostalgia takes me back to the dining room of my childhood home. There, my parents, my brother, and I danced inhibition-free, basking in the joy triggered by that funky melody and slamming beat.
Visual art can have a profound impact as well. I feel a strong connection to Jonathan Green’s paintings, as he masterfully depicts Gullah Geechee culture and its Southern coastal landscape. While viewing his work, I am filled with pride and admiration for the beauty, skill, and survival of my ancestors and their calm, peaceful demeanor.
Art evokes emotions, causes us to dance, and sometimes leads us to start social justice movements. Whether it’s an Ava Duvernay film, an Alvin Ailey dance piece, or a Kirk Franklin praise song, art inspires us and is worthy of appreciation. However, while we appreciate artists and their work, we must pay homage to God, who is the supreme artist. The artists we admire were created by God, and their skills and talents are gifts from Him. The psalmist states it best: I will give thanks and praise to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; wonderful are Your works, and my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from You, when I was being formed in secret, and intricately and skillfully formed [as if embroidered with many colors] in the depths of the earth. Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; and in Your book were all written the days that were appointed for me, when as yet there was not one of them [even taking shape]. (Psalm 139:14-16, AMP) Just as an artist uses care to create, the psalmist describes the love and intricacy God used to create each of us, His works of art. With love and intention, our Creator made each of us stunningly unique—a truth that many of us should internalize as we develop our God-given, artistic gifts.
For the last seven years, I have contemplated becoming a writer; but, unfortunately, my growth in becoming a writer has been stifled by fear. I have compared my stories and writing style to those of well-known authors, allowing negative thoughts to hinder my determination. But when I consider that I was “intricately and skillfully formed” by God, such negative thoughts can be viewed as disrespect to my Creator, as they dishonor Him and His creation. When negative thoughts intrude, I strive to focus on the fact that God views my writing style with the same admiration that he views the styles of renowned writers. Doing so liberates me from the mental bondage that hinders my writing and facilitates creative freedom. I become free to do me.
Each person has his or her unique combination of intellect, talents, and gifts that come together beautifully to become a predetermined whole. So, if you tend to struggle with perseverance in your calling, please don’t. Whether you rap, teach, care, style, manage, decorate, or host with passion, embrace it and remember that God was showing off when He created you and your particular gifts. You are His art, so free fall into your gift and use it with pride because God intended for you to do so. You “are embroidered with many colors,” and you are fully equipped. With intention, He “intricately and skillfully formed you” to be different than any well-known artist.
Furthermore, whenever we admire something about someone—her natural beauty, his chiseled physique, the way one puts an outfit or meal together, the smooth moves of someone on the dance floor, the agility of an athlete, or the way an orator commands a room—don’t forget the one responsible for that greatness. Our God, the first and ultimate artist, must be remembered and praised.
by Tifini P. Williams
Twrite2018@yahoo.com Instagram: Tifinipwilliams Photograph: Abraham “IamHaym” Toms