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Art and life

By Jerry Hopkins
July 9, 2014 at 10 p.m.

Grateful for people who serve

Art and artists are very important. Unfortunately, art, especially what is sometimes termed "the high arts" can be pushed aside financially and personally in difficult times. Economic difficulties often adversely affect two things in many people's lives-the church (religion) and the arts (particularly what I'm terming as "the high arts"-painting, sculpture, poetry, classical music). We need to consider the value of the high arts and those who practice them. We ought to support the arts and movements that foster and promote the arts.

There are many movements that have arisen associated with the arts through history. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries a social and aesthetic movement emerged emphasizing good design and craftsmanship in the shadows of increasing mechanization and mass production, standardization and sameness. Popularly this movement has become known as that of arts and crafts. It originated in England flourishing and growing there concerned mainly in the beginning with architecture and the decorative arts on buildings. Ultimately it emerged in several countries on the European continent and finally crossed the Atlantic to impact the United States.

The arts and crafts movement was broad and loosely structured with many and varied strands of thought and artistry. As a movement it formally gained its name from the Arts and Crafts Exhibition Society founded in 1888 that claimed its origins back as early as the 1850s in the ideas of John Ruskin, an eloquent writer who disliked the impact and sameness of machine-made products. He believed the beauty of medieval art originated in the pride and creativity of individual craftsmanship. Thus individual expression and unique creativity emerged emphasizing both art and craft.

Ruskin's thoughts influenced William Morris who expressed the idea that art was "man's expression of his joy in labour" and he believed that good, attractive design could bring a better society into being. He greatly influenced the re-creation of individual hand industry in an increasingly standardized, machine age industry. He influenced the production of unique and attractive textiles, printed books, illustrated materials, wallpaper, furniture. His work was successful. His company was profitable, but his production of art for the masses failed because only the rich could afford what he made. Ruskin and Morris stressed the value of art and the virtue of the artists who work creatively. Their emphasis certainly led to the association of art with individuality and value.

In this regard art involves all of us. This is the emphasis that Theologian Francis Schaeffer stressed in his little book, Art and the Bible, saying that art involves "the total man in the total world. The Christian message begins with the existence of God forever and then with creation. It does not begin with salvation. We must be thankful for salvation, but the Christian message is more than that. Man has a value because he is made in the image of God, and thus man as man is an important subject for Christian art. Man as man-with his emotions, his feelings, his body, his life-this is an important subject matter for poetry and novels. I'm not talking here about man's lostness but about his mannishness. In God's world the individual counts. Therefore, Christian art should deal with the individual." This view of life is important, not just for our witness as God's people, but also it speak to His work in creation and to our worship of Him as our Creator and God of all things. This is exactly why we should value and advance art and artists. Let us think about this. I hope that you will join with me and many others in supporting the arts and music in our lives locally through the Marshall Regional Arts Council. Through working together, supporting the arts and artists, in this organization we can contribute and collaborate together to promote and prosper the arts.

This evening at the Marshall Visual Art Center on East Burleson there will be a closing reception from 5-7 p.m. with a grand prize drawing and a selection of awards. There is an exciting silent auction involving 50 donated artworks by participating artists promoting the 2014 theme of "Celebrate Texas!" All of the auction proceeds benefit the Council and when you join you will get one entry for each $25 that you contribute to MRAC. In addition, you should vote for your three favorite artworks in the display. Celebrate Art! God is the ultimate artist, expressing himself in all that he has made, showing himself in all that is beautiful, fine and valued. He is not only the judge of all that is, he is also the creator and revealer of what is creative and expressive of good art and artistry.

I would like to know what you think about art and artists in our community and region. I would like to encourage you to join in this "community conversation," sharing what you think and learn; speaking your thoughts and ideas for others; acting jointly to make significant changes and promote art in creative and challenging ways in our community, county, state and nation. As I have said before, our study together, thinking and conversing together, can bring right and good to our lives in our community, particularly in the arts. I want to encourage you as an artist, to foster an appreciation for art and creative expression. I look forward to hearing from you and learning from your gracious responses.

You can reach me by mail by addressing Dr. Jerry Hopkins, Marshall News Messenger, P.O. Box 730, Marshall, Texas 75671; by calling (903) 923-2087 or by email to drjerryhopkins@yahoo.com.

Dr. Jerry Hopkins is a professor in Marshall.

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