I’ve been thinking about silence recently. And it’s not just being quiet, it’s about what we say with the things we create. Silence plays an important role in today’s society, and I think it plays an important role in our creativity as well.
A few days ago, I finally got around to watching “Eat. Pray. Love.” and I was taken aback by the dedication Julia Roberts’ character saw in others throughout the movie. While I looked at her belief in that particular religion to be more because she lacked a backbone spiritually, I saw parallels to today’s Christian congregation. There are so many humans that simply peruse through religions as if they were part of a large Sears catalog, that our ability to outreach has stopped being how impactful our message is, but rather, how impactful our messenger is. The boyfriend of Julia Roberts’ character was nothing but a charming young man who believed that this particular religion was the best, and it wasn’t his dedication she fell for, it was his portrayal of impacting meaning in the religion that made her convert. This concept struck me as something creatives need to think on while creating. There wasn’t anything special about the guy, it was simply his delivery, and we as creatives can use the same principle: Use our talents to creatively portray the greatest story ever told to a collection of people with completely different learning styles, backgrounds, beliefs and interests. How do we do this? By creating a million ways to tell it. Trust me, it’s possible.
She also encounters this woman who has made the decision to remain silent for a period of time, and this amongst the rest of the movie was particularly striking to me– silence to speak volumes. By remaining silent, she allowed for those around her to communicate with her in an entirely different way, and showed a different side of her personality. No one could imagine that this woman was actually semi-obnoxious and wanted nothing more than to be a chatty-Cathy all day, but if she hadn’t made the decision to be silent, we wouldn’t have ever seen her calm, quiet personality that was portrayed for the majority of the movie. Yet again, we can use this principle as creatives in our art. Take our quarterly publication at Redeemer for example: As a relatively new graphic designer, my first big job at Redeemer was to create a quarterly publication displaying many different activities that Redeemer would be involved in during the Spring/Summer. In my excitement and desire to show off my skills, I created every graphic with as much detail as I possibly could and spared no expense on making every ad as beautiful and exciting as possible. After all, creating beautiful art for the children’s ministry and then lacking in the women’s ministry is bound to catch up with you somewhere. 🙂 Today, my boss and I had our creative meeting about this upcoming Messenger and we discussed how that played both to our favor and to a great disadvantage in our church congregation. The only thing that really stuck out among all the busy ads was actually the very plain logo that we’ve had since 2005 (and I’ve since redesigned). In hindsight, had I not been so worried about pleasing the ministers, the messages they gave me to communicate to not only our congregation, but to our surrounding community would have been expressed with the clarity they most likely would have wanted. I once heard, “You can say more with less”, and looking at this publication, while beautiful, would definitely have made more of an impact with less for the eye to look at. Essentially, with our silence, we can speak volumes in regards to art, and that’s our calling; not to create beautiful works of art that mean nothing, but to create art that tells the story that will bring salvation.