I once read a quote by Robert Schumann that brought clarity to my purpose as an artist: “To send light into the darkness of men's hearts - such is the duty of the artist.”
I have been interning for Art House Dallas for about a month now, and have become increasingly intrigued by the concept of creating art for the common good. My learning journey continued when I attended a To Write Love On Her Arms (TWLOHA) event, Heavy and Light, at the House of Blues on February 5th. It was “an evening of songs, conversation, and hope,” featuring spoken word poet Anis Mojgani, acoustic performances by artists such as Noah Gundersen and Jon Foreman, and a message from TWLOHA founder, Jamie Tworkowski.
As a fan of Switchfoot and Fiction Family, I was most excited to see Jon Foreman perform. Jon has this beautiful way of writing raw, truthful lyrics that are deeply hope-filled in their understanding of human nature and the need for a savior. He admits failure, exposes injustice, confesses weakness, and points us to the hope that exists outside of ourselves. To Write Love On Her Arms is a movement dedicated to presenting hope and finding help for struggling people. Jon Foreman is such an effective partner in this vision.
One of my favorite moments of the night was when Jon sang “Dare You to Move” completely unplugged—just a man and a guitar and a very popular song. The House of Blues quieted into a close, intimate gathering of music-lovers, and we all sang loudly along. After the second chorus, Jon jokingly asked if we knew the bridge. The crowd enthusiastically raised the volume, and the lyrics stuck out to me in a new way:
“Maybe redemption has stories to tell.
Maybe forgiveness is right where you fell.
Where can you run to escape from yourself?
Where you gonna go?
Where you gonna go?
Salvation is here.”
There is hope for us when we look to God. To Write Love On Her Arms believes that “rescue is possible, that freedom is possible, and that God is still in the business of redemption.” Jon Foreman is singing these truths city to city on the Heavy and Light tour. He truly writes for the common good, to “send light into the darkness of men’s hearts.” As Schumann would say, he is an artist fulfilling his duty.
My experience came full circle when I learned that Switchfoot’s early days were spent at the original Art House in Nashville with their producer, Charlie Peacock. Charlie and his wife, Andi, founded Art House America to “cultivate creative community for the common good.” They understood that art is a powerful expression of the human soul and that it can have a profound impact for the good of others. At the concert, I saw people with real problems; holding onto real hope, and being led to that hope through music.
And after the show, I had the pleasure of meeting Jon and snapping a picture with him. He is just as friendly and encouraging off stage as he is on. I look forward to seeing him perform again in the future. In the meantime, my journey in creating and promoting art for the common good continues at Art House Dallas. I am grateful to be part of an organization that has positively shaped Jon Foreman and so many others.