“Art requires a long look.”
A long look. Who has the time to give anything a long look these days?
Not me! And probably not you.
But lately I’ve been increasingly aware that a long look is not only essential for understanding art, but is also required for parenting, friendship, appreciating beauty, understanding great books and for navigating life with God. A long look is about focused attention. It’s about actively fighting distraction to create space to contemplate the layers of meaning in an image, book, situation or conversation.
It’s about gazing, not glancing.
I want to gaze.
My writing here is an attempt to look long. I’m trying to discover meaningful connections between the things I love—art, literature, family, friends and scripture. While you’re here take some time to look with me. Maybe you’ll see something I missed.
There was a span of several years between the birth of my daughter and the birth of my son, when I felt a crippling spiritual and mental inertia. I felt like I was starving. Becoming a mother was (and is!) the greatest joy I’ve ever experienced; but I realized I couldn’t mother well without feeding my spirit. And I couldn’t feed my spirit without feeding my mind.
After conversations with trusted friends and mentors, and lots of desperate prayer, my husband and I hashed out the possibilities together and we hatched what seemed like a crazy plan. We would take a year off work and go back to grad school—both of us, as full-time students.
So with a six-year-old daughter and a nursing nine-month-old baby boy, we packed up our apartment in Istanbul and stashed all our beloved paintings and books in storage. We dipped into our savings and moved into a spartan 800-square-foot student apartment in Vancouver, BC, where we studied theology and church history at Regent College.
That year we ate so well. We feasted. We read, we listened, we discussed, we met a new community of friends from around the world, we juggled and we memorized Greek vocabulary after the kids went to bed.
In hindsight I know it would have been a disaster of a year if my son hadn’t been such a sound sleeper. But grace gave us a year of restful nights and a reading list to last a lifetime.
I submitted my thesis two weeks before my third baby was born. And then I didn’t sleep for two and a half years—my second daughter was nothing like my son.
But through it all, I learned that study can be devotional, that contemplating art and scripture and the ways they speak to our life together can be an act of worship. I learned that I need other voices—other writers, other historians, other artists, other believers—to help me find the meaning I crave. I bet you do too. Let me introduce you to some of the voices that have helped me along the way.
Art, design, books, travel and scripture all have one thing in common—they’re not passive; they’re partners in a dialogue that can shape our thought about the world, our place in it, and our relationship to others and to God.
Come join the conversation. Let’s talk about things that matter, ideas that feed our minds, beauty that fills our souls.
In the Relevance of the Beautiful, Hans-Georg Gadamer says,
A work of art “issues a challenge which expects to be met. It requires an answer—an answer that can only be given by someone who accepted the challenge. And that answer must be his own, and given actively. The participant belongs to the play.”
I want to jump in. Won’t you join me?
A few other tidbits:
I’ve worked for nearly two decades as a graphic designer, creative director and editor, but I studied painting and philosophy. Since my heart still gravitates to fine art and good books, you’ll find many references to them scattered through my writings.
- If you are interested in art and the meaning of life, you might like: Victim or Survivor?—Giacometti, ovarian cancer and a glimpse of glory.
Even though I didn’t set out to be a nomad, I’ve lived most of my life overseas. I was born in the U.K, but grew up in Virginia. I studied at Wake Forest University in North Carolina, and abroad in Venice, Italy. From Italy, I moved to Bulgaria, from Bulgaria to Virginia, back over the ocean to Cyprus, and finally, to Turkey. All three of my kids were born overseas. I love the way crossing cultures shakes me out of comfortable presumptions and helps me see things from a new perspective.
- If you feel like exploring, try: How a recent trip to Cappadocia reminded me that reading well makes travel meaningful.
For the last few years I’ve been captivated by the call to become blessing. I believe in the worth of words and in their power to shape our future. I’ve been searching for threads of blessing in the Bible and in church history. The more I learn, the more I try to put blessing into practice in my home and in my relationships. For me, the emphasis is on giving, rather than grasping.
- If you’re curious about what it means to bless, check out: Too many goodbyes—Turning leaving into blessing
I write and speak about faith, art and travel. And I take commissions for design and stained glass window projects. You’ll find some past projects in my portfolio.
If you’re interested in working together, I’d love to hear from you.