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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