The changing colors of leaves in the fall, the moon’s influence on waves, a spark turning to fire, the rainbow that comes after rain – everything in this world, us included, was given to us by the Creator.
That means what surrounds us and what is within us is all art.
As an artist, I can testify that everything serves a practical as well as a divine purpose. When we look at life through the lens of our Creator, we can see the beauty of this world and recognize the artistic wonder of all creation.
The dictionary defines art in a prosaic way, as “the conscious use of skill and creative imagination, especially in the production of aesthetic objects.” But art is so much more than that. Art doesn’t have to be something manmade to look “aesthetic.” Art can be accidental, intentional, and even unintentional – because everything we do has some purpose since we have souls.
In our souls, we’ve been gifted with an innate ability to create, and every day we do so, whether we realize it or not. Over time, humans have contributed to God’s magnificent artwork that makes up this world and all that is therein. Art inhabits everything when looked at through the eyes of the Creator.
Isaiah 64:8 says, “But now, O Lord, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand.” We are God’s creation – which means we are art. So isn’t all that we bring into existence art as well?
The Creator’s artworks include the uniqueness of each individual, food that grows from the ground, unique animals native to different regions, and the stunning expanse of the universe itself. But perhaps the most beautiful of God’s artworks is the spiritual path He has fortified for us through religion.
Through the mountains and the oceans, God has made his presence known. Psalm 50:2 says, “From Zion, perfect in beauty, God shines forth.” Those who deny God’s existence since we cannot physically see Him have failed to see His works of art — which exist everywhere. All we have to do is look up and recognize that the beauty all around us is in fact God’s creation.
The more grateful we are for those creative blessings, the happier we become, since we begin to notice all the beauty that exists. Art surrounds us. Ecclesiastes 3:11 says, “He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.”
That great creative force has endowed us with souls, and they inspire our creative and imaginative work as artists. Art can mean different things to different people, but if we choose to look at it through a spiritual lens, then everything we create has the potential to express our artistic inspirations. God has gifted us with our innate ability to create – and that gift in itself is art.
The Baha’i teachings regard the making of art as worship. Abdu’l-Baha, the son and successor of Baha’u’llah, wrote that “The acquisition of sciences and the perfection of arts are considered acts of worship.” As a result, Baha’is hold art to a lofty spiritual standard, recognizing that our ability to create art connects us to God. While we might not all be painters, musicians, filmmakers, or artists in a traditional sense, all people are endowed with some sort of gift to create. 1 Peter 4:10 says, “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace …”
Of course, art is subjective, and no one really gets to officially decide what it is and isn’t artistic. In some ways, everything can become artistic because of the beauty this world holds. Art is merely what separates the ordinary from the extraordinary, and it is up to us to say what we find to be extraordinary.
When we look at the world through the eyes of our Creator, we find that everything around us is extraordinary in its own way. This means that acts of service can be art, giving a speech can be artistic, and tending to loved ones can all be referred to as art since we are all living on the artistic framework of life that God has so generously provided for us.
Our emotional capacity to be empathetic, generous, and loving allows us to bring more art into this world. Our ability to create through mediums like music instills joy within ourselves and others, and can even harness the power to not only strengthen communities but also create new ones. Abdu’l-Baha wrote that “music, sung or played, is spiritual food for soul and heart.” Art can have a profoundly nourishing impact on us because it offers us emotional, spiritual, and creative sustenance. Abdu’l-Baha said:
Although sounds are but vibrations in the air which affect the ear’s auditory nerve, and these vibrations are but chance phenomena carried along through the air, even so, see how they move the heart. A wondrous melody is wings for the spirit, and maketh the soul to tremble for joy.
Every morning, the sun comes up, and every night, the moon reveals itself within the darkness amongst all the stars. Isn’t that art in itself? If man had created this phenomenon we would regard it as the greatest artwork of all time.
When we feel God’s presence in the wind, in the strong sun shining bright on our faces, in the current of the sea, and in the molding of the snow to perfectly hold us, we’re experiencing art. Part of the point of religion is to help us recognize the beauty within ourselves, others, and this world. God gave that to us freely, and we can use it to see all the art there is that we have once failed to recognize. All that we do and make is inspired by the Creator’s power. Once we recognize this we feel loved, free, noble, and fulfilled. When looking at all of existence through the eyes of God, everything is art – and we are art.