|Detail of "Spectral Reflections" by Robert Stephan,|
from "North Carolina Glass: In Celebration of 50 Years of Studio Glass in America"
The Fine Art Museum, Western Carolina University, Cullowhee, North Carolina
I've been reading portions of saints Athanasius, Augustine, and Maximus the Confessor--have found much of it interesting, very different from our own day. The early church was a bit too busy with persecution and heresy to focus on art, though Augustine has wonderful things to say about the act of creation by God and about gifts and the perception of the beautiful.
The lovely thing that he says about the nature of creation is that it comes from God's abundance. Once creation exists, it needs--human beings need--to move closer to the fount of things, to "the Fountain of Life" in order to be filled with light and "given perfection, splendour, and bliss." To draw close to the light and fragrance and beauty of the creator is to "cry out in joy, confessing your glory, like a man exultant at a feast." A greater abundance gives rise to our abundance.
And isn't that what we feel about art--the best of our art, if it is not some dreary, tweedling thing of pretension and faux intellection and rejection of beauty--that it comes from a great spill of feeling, a waterfall of light that flashes right through us? Creation is a gift, born in abundance and the desire to make.