“So what’s your area of creativity?” she asked me casually after exchanging names for the first time at St. John’s Wood last Thursday night.
Her question was a fair one considering our purpose for hosting the Art House Exchange. In fact, my new friend was doing exactly what we hoped people would do at our monthly pub gathering for creatives.
I’ve probably been asked this question hundreds of times since becoming Director of Art House Dallas. I have to confess that for a very long time, I always wished I had a better answer for those inquiring. It seems like a fair expectation that the leader of this organization would have some focused artistic talent driving their love for helping other artists.
“I’m an organizer for artists, a creative connector,” I answered back to my new friend.
It was clear that she was expecting me to say something along the lines of being a painter or a writer or photographer. While I love to dabble in all those areas, I’m also the first one to admit I’m never going to be esteemed as a “great” in any of those creative pursuits. Yet, I’m learning that my particular gifts of creativity don’t have to fit within our mainstream awards ceremonies to validate its merit. And neither does yours.
This is not to say I wouldn’t love to have a voice like Adele, but it has certainly been freeing to realize we all have a creative offering to contribute to the world. I remember the first time I went to the Art House in Nashville three years ago for a singer/songwriter retreat. I was surrounded by all of these phenomenally talented musicians. I was there to help with a retreat for musicians to connect with each other and be encouraged in their pursuit of writing mainstream music for the common good. In light of the fact that I can barely play the triangle much less sing a harmony, I couldn’t help feeling a little out of place. I loved hearing their stories and music, but what did I possibly have to offer to all these musicians that would be of any value?
I was certain at the time my only offering could come in the form of being able to write impressive lyrics or join in with a mandolin accompaniment. On the last day of the retreat, I got into a causal conversation with a girl named Adjoa living in LA and looking for a tour manager. I jokingly told her I would do it since it sounded a lot like what I did with trip planning in the White House Advance office. If I could help with the details for the politicos focused on policy, perhaps I could use my same organization skills to help bring order to a creative musician’s life.
While I didn’t actually become Adjoa’s tour manager, the conversation we had that afternoon was a pivotal point in helping me see for the first time how God could use my love of organizing events and connecting people as a creative offerings. An offering that would help others bring their specific beauty to the world and perhaps even play a role in introducing two people to collaborate and create something more amazing than they could’ve on their own.
Thank goodness for friends and community that can see our gifts oftentimes more clearly than we can see them ourselves. This is a one of our greatest motivations in providing opportunities for y’all to come to events like Art House Local, where you can sit with a small group of friends in your area of Dallas and talk about what it looks like to pursue artful, faithful lives.
It’s so easy to get stuck into thinking we need our creativity to look like a musician or a painter. What would our world look like without inventors and chefs and architects? Without teachers explaining complex ideas in a way we can understand? Without mothers creating a home that feels comfortable and cooking meals for our growing bodies? Without a physician creating the plan to bring a sick child back to health and flourishing? Without entrepreneurs creating businesses that care not just about the financial return, but have a passion for social responsibility?
There is so much beauty in the diversity of creativity and the Creator has gifted you with something specific to offer to the world. Whether you are clear about your gifts, or still trying to become comfortable with the idea of being a creative person, I hope you’ll come take advantage of some of Art House Dallas’ upcoming gatherings. It’s not about being the most creative person, it’s about figuring out what you’ve been created to do and doing it.