What is the Point? (Redux)

 

Several weeks ago I met Jill Eberle.  She is an amazing artist and a beautiful person.  Shortly after meeting her, my coach challenged me to give a presentation of my paintings to the curator at The GreenHill Center for NC Art.  Jill decided to present her work as well.  We encouraged and supported each other each step of the way, and she even offered to drive us there.  Afterward, on the drive home, we discussed our work and the business of art.  Jill brought up a question that she said was extremely useful in helping her figure things out.  It's a question I've heard many times in the entrepreneurial world, and it's a question I hate:  "What problem are you solving in the world?"    

Poor Jill didn't realize she had opened Pandora's box.  My immediate (and somewhat defensive) reaction was, "I don't know!  I just paint and write about what I love and feel.  I'm not an inventor or an activist!" 

The truth is I often feel like my art is self-serving.  But after a moment of reflection, I acknowledged to myself that I'm a creator and I do feel extremely passionate about the things I love.  Returning to Jill's question, I told her about a coworker who once said to me that an animal's death wasn't important because animals don't have souls.  Not only do animals have souls, but I am constantly astounded by how beautiful the world is, how it all works together, and how God created each and every thing (animal, vegetable, or mineral) individually and specifically to fill some purpose in existence.  That's why I paint animals.  When I paint a sheep, it's not merely any generic sheep.  I'm painting a specific sheep that I've encountered because it's a magnificent creation of God.  And that's why my blog is called All Creation Matters.  I believe everything God created does matter.  And we tend to forget and take things for granted.  

When I finally stopped speaking, Jill, in her quiet and logical voice said, "I think the problem you're solving is you're teaching people how to love better." 

I was dumbfounded.  The word "teach" sounds awfully presumptuous considering how often I fail, forget, and take things for granted.  But my paintings and writing help me to remember to love.  They are my way of sharing with others the achingly beautiful experience of Life and God's Creation through the act of creation itself.  Do they solve a problem in the world?  I don't know, but if they do help someone in some way then I consider myself blessed.  Another reminder that the point of it all is love.

Thank you, Jill. 


Do you know what problem you're solving in the world?  Please share your thoughts and comments below.

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2 comments

  • I wonder / fret about this as well, especially since I put the Arts aside as a profession. Because I believe artists really do get a pass: creating beauty in this vale of tears is its own solution and an exalted one at that!

    But your answer really is primary: love is indeed the point. And, for Christians, every problem has been solved by Christ on the cross. A good thought to take into holy week this year perhaps!

    That is not to say that any of us, artists included, are exempt from participating in making the world a better place. But framing our fields of endeavor in terms of problems is…. Unhelpful? Presumptuous? Not the point? Lots to think about here, thanks!

    Mark Dirksen
  • This was a great discussion, thoughtful, meaningful – you both inspire me!

    Lorraine M. DiCesare

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