community – accountability

One of my dreams for the future is to be able to provide a year long patronage for an artist or artists. I was speaking with a friend of mine about this and sharing some of my more idealistic vision when he challenged me in a very positive way.

To get us off to a start, I’ll share the goal. The goal is to give the artist a year with no responsibilities other than creating. Some of the particulars are as follows:

  • All basic necessities and art supplies provided for.
  • Community based living, but no requirement to engage in these activities.
  • No judgment on the artist’s work.
  • No requirement to create any specific number of works.

Note, that in my mind, the growth of the artist is assumed. I admit that several of these are in response to the limitations we place on others that can be stifling and unhealthy. It is the best approach I could think of that stands in opposition to the very restrictive and stifling way the church has limited its artists. I was reminded that the above would be wonderful for the mature, but not everyone is mature. This would not have worked for me even a few months ago. This is where the conflicting opinion helped clarify and better the idea. That being a quick endorsement of community in itself. It helps us see blind spots and make our work better. Now, back to idea of the day.

My friend shared the need for accountability. The dangers he saw in this scenario were those things that might hinder the artist or lead them to lazily let the time pass by wasted and unused. Where I assumed growth, he called to attention the real possibility that growth might need a little help. One of these helps is accountability. By this I mean to say some measure of productivity or growth is in place that is attested to and encouraged by other individuals. This too is a benefit of community. We are responsible for and to people other than ourselves. It is amazing the power this can yield when it is handled correctly. It is also amazing the disastrous and destructive power it wields for guild and shame when it is not handled correctly.

This is where his challenge began to grow new things from the combination of our thoughts. He mentioned a discipleship like relationship. These are relationships that I had assumed would take place. So we began talking with this in mind and he shared something wonderful. The idea was simple. Don’t make it one size fits all. Every individual artist will need different things. Some will be highly self motivated and may only want you to touch base with them now and again. They will engage in the community work by their own choice. Others may need a checklist and very intentional pursuit to take advantage of the opportunities afforded them by living in community and having the freedom, a sometimes daunting freedom, to pursue their hearts desire without restriction. It’s amazing how much encouragement it takes to face such freedom. It’s almost too vast for the mind to handle.

I am experiencing that right now in some ways, and I find I need constant reminders that whether I deserve it or not, it’s a gift given to be fully realized, enjoyed and shared. Furthermore, it is my gift to be fully realized, enjoyed and shared. You see, accountability is not always a checklist. It is also a side effect of good community where we are bound up to a greater purpose and in that way bound to other individuals. People shape us and help, as my friend here did, to refine our vision, but they also encourage us to pursue our callings boldly. In addition, the simple awareness that what we do or do not do affects those around us can be a powerful motivator, especially if we know and care for those people. Amazingly, it is still about relationship.

This is why I believe that we, as artists, need community so desperately. It is not a stifling community that tells us how and what we should do, though we shouldn’t fear being challenged, but a supportive community that encourages our work, discovery and personal growth.

So who is your community and how do they help you to utilize the freedom to create that you’ve been given?

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About Kirk

I enjoy life and have been blessed with many different experiences. An eye for the underlying truths that surround me accompanies a growing faith in Christ and God that informs my world and reveals small miracles and beauty surrounding me every day. This is the major reason I felt led to start Dance of 2 Companies - a dance studio where I can share all the little amazing things God's taught me through life as a dancer - about myself, about others, about marriage... and most importantly, about Him.
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4 Responses to community – accountability

  1. This was a wonderful post, Kirk!
    I am blessed to have artist siblings who are some of my best friends, and to have grown up in a home which was incredibly nurturing in art and music. Also, I consider it a great gift to have both my pastor/discipler and one of my closest mentors at church as artists in their own ways. Both women appreciate and encourage art and creativity as part of my spiritual expression and relationship with God. My church is SO supportive of the arts… we had a Lenten art exhibit of church members’ creative responses to a set of Scriptures selected for meditation during the Lent season. We have a little girls’ dance group (His Handmaids) which often lead us in worship. We have art camp for kids and art/craft lessons and sessions in our Christian Life Center. Those are just to name a few examples. It has been such an amazing experience to me to connect my artistry with my spiritual journey over these past few years. To express worship through art is like the culmination and fulfillment of who I am as an artist.
    ~ Alanna

    • Kirk says:

      That really is incredible Alanna! It’s amazing what happens when we have support to do things that are not seen as valuable these days. I love what you said about worship through art being a culmination and fulfillment of who you are as an artist. It’s so incredible to be able to glorify God in being who He made us to be!

  2. Anne Barringer says:

    Such a beautiful post, and inspiring too.

    I always said that if I ever won the lottery, I’d buy some retreat and then let artists of all kinds use it if they needed a place to get away and create. I had ideas on how, what, where and why and covering the basic necessities. But until this post, I never thought about how some people might need different things to encourage growth. Which is strange because as you know, I love to muse people, oftentimes forgetting about my own needs.

    I am always going to be a muse (sometimes amusing too – lol) but I’ve learned I have the right to be mused right on back. So I am starting out a group of people who want to move ahead with writing, a very small group, where true reciprocation happens. Surrounding yourself with people who really care about writing and the success of one another, allows for encouragement (in whatever manner it pops up – because yes we all have different needs) for oneself too. I knew that I needed to make this happen if I am serious about writing. (Sadly in the past, too many times I’ve let my nature to muse and feel as if I must give and not allow myself to receive – tie my own hands. Or someone I believed in had my best interests at heart, didn’t. So instead of a writing buddy, I provided all the musing and they reaped all the rewards (which I don’t begrudge their rewards btw, I still think they are good things, just it wasn’t fair) and that’s not healthy.

    I like Alanna’s thoughts on her church and how she is supported. That must be an amazing feeling. I need to find a church like that – which means I’m going to have to settle down and look. I keep traveling (all for good reasons) and while I’ve found many churches and enjoy each one as I can, I haven’t found anything like that since I left Memphis. There is a church there that is totally amazing and I miss it very much.

    Gee this growing stuff is hard some days! lol

    I want to thank you for your blog posts. They encourage, they uplift and they make me think and focus on good things and ideas. So much win can be found here.

    • Kirk says:

      Who knows what the future holds. It may well be that you’ll have a retreat like that one day. As you mentioned that group of writers and things that we need, it also reminded me that we need people of similar vision, desire and maturity to press forward. I feel bad sometimes for leaving a group where I’m constantly pouring out, but there is a need to be challenged and fed so that we can in turn further challenge and feed. I’m so glad you’ve initiated a place where you too can be filled. I hope you are able to find a church like that as well!

      & thanks… you are an encourager as always and I’m thrilled that these posts are a blessing to you!

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