Tomorrow many will celebrate the one-hundredth birthday of Lawrence Ferlinghetti who, along with Allen Ginsberg, was a leading spokesman of the Beat Poets, of the 1950’s. There was little I appreciated about the Beat Poets whose foul imagery spewed out into the culture, or maybe I just didn’t understand or couldn’t relate to their cause. The undisciplined and often drug-induced vocabulary was frequently incoherent, not only to me, but to many others also. There are however, a couple of ideas from Ferlinghetti that I am willing to single out and celebrate! One is that he said he thought art had the power to change the world and the other is that art needs to be delivered out of the precious world of academia and museums “back to the streets.” His idea of the “power to change the world” is probably nothing like the power that I envision since it seems to me the beat generation did cause many changes for the worse of the world. Did “back to the streets” take the art world not to the streets but to the gutters (but I digress).
There is a nascent movement in the artworld today mainly led by Christian artist Matt Tommey that may indeed change the world. He speaks of a deep spiritual call to “raise up an army of artists,” of mainly Christian artists committed to the precepts and ideals of the Bible. Surprisingly he is himself a basketmaker!! He works in a medium known as a craft of common people, a medium which produces a functional object useful in daily life. He has, however, lifted the medium to the pinnacle of artistic expression. So my thought is, not only are baskets a lovely street-craft but also “from the streets lifted to glorify God.” He is a superb encourager of artists with a huge Facebook following, beckoning artists to thrive, pursue their skills, and express from the inspiration that will reliably rise within any artist who is open to it. He also offers a Mentoring Program that is replete with information, exercises, ideas, assignments and abundant encouragement. It appears that the army of artists is indeed being raised and that the world will not only be changed but will be improved, enriched, and glorify its Creator. If you are interested in this fertile movement: https://www.matttommey.com or check out the facebook pages “Created To Thrive” or “Thriving Christian Artists”