Life can hard, uncaring, and monotonous. But those aspects of life serve to provide the dark contrast against the light of inspiration, hope, and joy. Men toil and struggle all their days for glimpses of happiness. And when life is at is most difficult, all we can do is hope for better times. But when hope runs thin, it is inspiration that saves us from despair. It's what compels us to get back in the game and rekindles hope for a better future.
Inspiration is contagious. We seek inspiration, and we go to concerts, performances and art galleries to get it. And when we return, our very souls have been enlarged and our capacity for greatness and goodness have increased. And we, in turn, have more energy to do what we do best and inspire others.
To inspire someone is the greatest calling of all art forms. Great composers of the past have written what inspires them, and that in turn has inspired generations thereafter. Song writers pour their soul into their lyrics and to those who relate, it provides profound relief and a release of pent up emotion. For the visual arts, inspiration comes by taking the viewer out of their everyday perspective and showing them something truly remarkable. Sometimes it's not what it's showing but how it's being shown that inspires.
People are inspired by different things. Many are inspired by a new take on the familiar. Sweeping landscapes, star filled skies, or the colorful sunsets awaken a sense of awe within us and allow us to see our world from newer eyes. But in all of history, few sights have inspired love and war like the incredible beauty of the human form.
To harness all an artists creativity, their skill at their chosen medium, and their understanding of what inspires; and to create a work of art depicting the majesty of the human form has been the aspiration of the grand masters of the renaissance. To them, this was not just art, it was the highest form of art, for it helped us all gain a fuller understanding of what it is to be human.
We were not created to live as the animals do, forced to kill or be killed to scratch out a hard and brief life upon the earth. We are children of God, and to be human is be be divine. And when we see depicted in art the best of us, in all the glory in which we were endowed by our creator, it's not so hard to understand that we are meant for higher things. All the toil, tragedy, and pain we endure in this life, prepares us and teaches us for a destiny that lies in the heavens above.
There is beauty in the human form that one could study for a lifetime, and yet still find daily inspiration. Visual artists frequently make this their calling. And they join the ranks of the most celebrated artists of all time by doing so. Those narrow minded souls, who are too ashamed of their human heritage to appreciate the crowning achievement of creation, can criticize the visual artist for depicting the nude figure. But they expose their ignorance by doing so.
Even among the conservative where the procreative powers are held sacred there is room for a healthy appreciation of what is beautiful, majestic, and Godlike. It is true, art has the ability both to inspire and to degrade. But to automatically assume the nude form depicted in art is degrading is to say that we are somehow made less by the absence our our man-made coverings. Our divine nature is not so easily shed. Automatically assuming the artist is trying to arouse the baser sexual desires in the viewer is a superficial viewpoint at best, and all too often it is a viewpoint laced with the insecurities and guilt of the criticizer.
So my counsel to the ignorance of conservatives: Don't be so quick to condemn something you know so little about. The second the visual artist put pencil to paper, paint to canvas, film in camera, stylus to digitizer or clay to armature to depict the human form; they, whether they realize it or not, are seeking to emulate God himself in the act of creation. In most instances, these artists can spout the anatomical names of the most obscure body parts they seek to capture with fidelity. They study the human figure—they are inspired by it. So if you open your mind enough to see what inspired the artist, you might find your own soul enlarged, your own faith increased, and you're appreciation for the divine nature of human kind restored. And just maybe, you'll be inspired to use the talents you have to inspire others as well.