BreakPoint Blog

The Use of Art

Philip_jackson Molly Peacock wrote, "Poetry is the art that offers depth in a moment, using the depth of a moment" (How to Read a Poem, p. 13). I was reminded of that excellent observation about the value of the arts as I read an interview with University of Mississippi artist Philip Jackson in the July/August issue of American Artist.

Jackson's specialty is still life, but not your typical fruit-in-a-bowl-dead-rabbit-and-dried-flowers variety of still life. Jackson takes as his subject ordinary objects, the kind of thing you might encounter any day -- a spoon, a piece of fruit, a Goldfish cracker, an egg -- and studies these in wondrous and strange combinations in order to demonstrate what he calls "the beauty in the commonplace."

Jackson wants us to slow down, look deeply into the moments and everyday objects of our lives, and try to discover new depth, reality, and beauty in these things. He says, "I want to encourage a break from our rigorous schedule to reconsider the value of life." If art can do that, it certainly should have a more valued place in each of our lives. Jackson's paintings, while constructed with wit and whimsy, are filled with profound intimations of deep and even spiritual truths. His "tension" series -- one of which includes a Goldfish cracker about to be launched into flight -- suggests the "tension" in which they live who have encountered the reality of the Kingdom of God, who know it to have come, but to be coming in greater fullness still. Jackson's masterful use of light in some ways recalls Rembrandt, both in technique and in purpose: "The role of light is probably the most important and inviting element about my work...I see light not only as a means to reveal form but also as a metaphor -- revealing grace as the element uniting everything into one." Here is a Christian artist we can both readily understand and wholeheartedly endorse. 

(Image courtesy of Jackson's website, where you can also view more of his work.)