What We Do with The Blank Spaces

I’ve made myself a bucket list of adventures I want to have in 2017, and this was one of them. My goal is to go on one such adventure every month in 2017, because I’ve found it’s deeply restorative for me to get out and explore. My list is incomplete, so if anyone has any must-see recommendations for Oklahoma or the surrounding states, I’d love to hear them. (Here is the list of places I’ve been.)

This past Saturday I went on a little adventure to the Oklahoma City Museum of Art. It was such a gorgeous day, that when I had finished there, I wandered around downtown and then in the Historical District, taking pictures.

 

16406968_10100637725651427_1072466919178212079_n(Downtown Church)

16388092_10100637725751227_4829707294485001791_n(The Oklahoma City National Memorial)

16266273_10100637725711307_1234822229592295289_n(A sculpture at the Memorial called Vigil)

You can view the full Downtown Oklahoma City Album here.

16387354_10100638404585837_5864863730712445871_n(A somewhat haunting view of the Historical District)

16174733_10100638404510987_3629283808399118889_n(Muted tones in the Historical District)

16265400_10100637754348917_8824193518329635752_n(The branches of the trees in the Historical District were particularly striking against the blue sky)

You can view the full Historical District Album here.

But I want to circle back to the Museum of Art.

In my opinion, the crowning exhibits at the Museum were the WPA (Works Progress Administration) Collection and Dale Chihuly’s Magic and Light Collection.

The Works Progress Administration was of course established as part of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal, and it funded thousands of artists through its Federal Arts Project arm. The Oklahoma City Museum of Art houses twenty-eight pieces by twenty-six artists.

16406602_10100637725526677_3474297402372343968_n(I was particularly drawn by the cubist elements in this piece from William S. Schwartz, as well as the combined realism of industry and nature. I looked at it for a while, then I went back and looked again.)

The Chihuly Magic and Light exhibit features glass-blown sculptures and if you ever get the chance to see a Chihuly exhibit, just do it. It’s incredible.

16266181_10100637725581567_203280408826478368_n(This really doesn’t do it justice.)

Even before going to the Museum of Art on Saturday, I knew that my taste in art tends to have heavy realist elements, and that those elements have to be presented in a striking way, or it just won’t capture my attention. I like thinking about curation, or the order and placement of art. I also enjoy pretty things, like glass-blown sculptures.

I am not, however, a fan of abstract art. I’ve tried, y’all. I’ve spent hours in front of random splotches of color on canvasses and I just haven’t gotten it. Until Saturday, when Sam Francis explained it to me.

16195799_10100637725546637_2562863611918579754_n

Apparently, Sam Francis embraced this style because of “[the] spiritual significance of white in both Western and Eastern religions” and “inspired his interpretation of the blank canvas as ‘ringing silence … an endless, ultimate point at the end of your life.’ In reaction to his own fearful reverence of the void, Sam Francis confronted this ‘visible absence of color’ by flinging bright paint onto it” (Oklahoma City Museum of Art).

That I understand.

It reminds me of a phrase from one of my favorite passages of Scripture: “[God] has planted eternity in the human heart” (Ecclesiastes 3:11b NLT).

It reminds me of The Curate of Glaston by George MacDonald, where the various characters grapple with what happens when we die throughout the story, and how our beliefs about what will happen when we die shape our lives.

It reminds me of how I use my own creative spark as a means to fill the blanks, the vacuums, the voids, the unknowns I encounter in my own life.

I think we all do, if in different ways.

Discomfort with the unknown is intrinsic to the human experience. We all have to deal with the discomfort, because the Only One who knows everything is God. And I can’t help but think all of our creative endeavors to fill the unknowns – however they are expressed – are at least a coping mechanism for the discomfort, if not a way to be rid of it altogether. We can’t handle unknowing, and so we create in an attempt to know and understand what we cannot.

Around the New Year, God convicted me to move my daily quality time with Him from evening to morning. I have no idea why. I mean, I hoped I would have some sort of evening routine, maybe involving my long-neglected fiction writing, but so far, no two evenings have been alike. Maybe I cook, maybe I clean, maybe I read, maybe I write, maybe I go to a Bible study, maybe I talk with friends and family, maybe I watch Netflix, maybe I process something that happened in my day, or maybe I do some combination of activities. There is no routine. In fact, best I can tell, I am supposed to keep my evenings routine-free for an unknown purpose.

I don’t get it. I don’t particularly like it. I mean, I could handle routine-free if I understood why. And if I had a routine, I wouldn’t be so preoccupied with why. But I don’t have either. I just have time that is being filled as it comes.

And maybe someday I will understand why that’s necessary right now, or maybe I won’t. What’s important is that I continue to seek God, and move as He reveals, and this is what He has shown me for right now.

It’s that simple, and it’s that difficult.

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