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Creativity, Artful Living, as Calling

Kim read this beautiful piece at the third Art House America 20th anniversary celebration, which took place at The Village Chapel.

I toured and performed on the road for 12 years before ever having a record deal, had my first art show 15 years after finishing art school, and published my first book at age 41. I’ve had record companies reject me, book companies choose and lose me, and art shows not sell a thing until the last day. I’ve published books and CDs that have sold in the tens of hundreds and I’ve listened as art patrons looked at my work and said, “I could have done that.”

Some people look at me and think I’m a huge success. Other people wonder why I do what I do, why I don’t quit and do something more “productive,” more measurable with my life.

But of all the things I do, produce, or sell — of all the things I succeed or fail at — what I am convinced of is that to occupy the Imago Dei — the image of God in me — I must live, think, and make creatively.

Creativity is at the core of our image bearing; the first recorded act of God is creating (Genesis 1:1). Our most beautiful image-bearing moments are those when we have integrated how we live and see with whatever craft or vocation we have been called to for the purpose of producing goodness. 

Being an artist — living creatively — is not about paintings in a gallery, songs on a soundtrack, or books on the bestseller lists. It is about seeing and hearing and going; it is about saying and making.

The calling is comprehensive, and it calls for observations that become expressions that become innovations, illuminations, improvisations, inspirations — creative living in a world so impoverished of soul that wearily and resignedly would otherwise often settle for redundant, derivative, confused, narrow, uninspired whispers of something beautiful.

"Creativity" by Kim Thomas

Breath must not be expected
Life must not be common
The ineffable must arrest us
Revelation must astonish us
and The Grand Aha must never dry up and peel away like faded paint in the wind . . .

Instead, like stain that bores through the pores to the core, creative living seeps into the everyday with a flourish of expectancy in the ordinary and has long-lasting impact resulting in legacy, stored in the strata of generational living like fossils in the earth. Impact travels through the freshly plowed path of creative thinking, choosing the less trafficked road instead of the rut of routine and mediocrity.

It integrates personhood, from doing the laundry to painting a masterpiece, on stage or at the stove, over coffee or under the rare showers of life-giving inspiration.

Creative living — living that intermingles the imagination with the daily fidelities of life, people, place, calling — will result in people who:

Go where no one else is going,
say what no one else is saying,
make what no one else is making.

“Good is original, independent, and constructive; evil is derivative, dependent, and destructive.” 
—Cornelius Plantinga

What are you doing with whatever you have to work with?

Kim Thomas is an artist, author of five books, and the Curate at The Village Chapel in Nashville, TN.

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Reader Comments (8)

Words of encouragement like this sustain us. Thanks.

November 23, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKathleen

Yes, yes! I agree! Thank you for sharing part of your story and expressing revelation and the essence of creativity in the ordinary, making life extraordinary.

November 24, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterValerie Sjodin

What are we doing?
We are putting on concerts - just because. Teaching isn't filling our time enough, so we perform. We were asked to do some music for a senior citizen luncheon and we decided to turn it into two full concerts half way across the country. I never saw us doing this so much, but you have to roll with what you're given. We don't just have to, though - we thrive on it.

As artists, of any sort, no one can take away our job. We create our "product," we create our niche in the market, and we create beautiful experiences for us and others. much as we love creating food, we don't have to quite so urgently now because we just got a bunch of free food while we were away rehearsing; a box full of beautiful breads that we were in the right place to get because we were out doing the next step in our creative process.

Thank you for the encouragement.

November 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterNaomi

Thanks Kim! Many phrases in this article will season my thinking and doing today! Imago Dei has been on my creative mind, and also being fully integrated though wearing many varied hats...this is so nurturing!

November 30, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterRebecca

well written

December 1, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterVal

Thanks for these thoughts--creativity as a way of life, as a way of being in the world--yes! It helps me to come more fully alive.

December 6, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJudith Hougen

Thank you for sharing this. I'm new to reading this blog, and I feel so encouraged and inspired! I am currently a student getting my BA in photography, and encouragements in the truth of who we were created to be as artists helps me get through! I'm excited to keep reading!

December 7, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKathryn Bronn

Dang. That was fantastic. Where have you people been all my life and why has God kept me from you? It's an interesting question to ponder, actually. We create from our lives, certainly, and mine may have taken a different route if I'd had such a group to converse with growing up. Clearly God had other plans, but the written word keeps haunting me, and it seems to me, more and more, that God's nudging me forward. This piece was beautifully expressed. Thank you. I'm so full, I hardly know what I'm saying. :)

July 15, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRachel

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