The artist contains within himself a motive, a drive, an idea that seeks to be conveyed and shared with others. He uses his creativity, his talent, his skill to put on paper, canvas or a wall, a Great Something. The adventure of the visual arts and the dynamic it embodies as a cultural force is due to the fact that it is non-verbal; it utilizes images rather than words and, hence, is not always explicit. Sometimes, therefore, what the artist means to convey and what the viewer perceives are two distinct things altogether. It may be the responsibility of the artist, at that point, to defend his work in order to clear up any confusion that arises.
In the case of the mural at Holy Family Home and Shelter, some may wonder at the choice of the images used thus far. When the executive director and the artist settled on children's faces as a concept for the project, it was the feeling of the artist that merely depicting a series of smiling faces was too static.
The enthusiasm for the mural demanded something more dynamic and exciting. Therefore, it was decided that the children would be allowed to make whatever silly poses or faces that they wanted.
It is the hope of this artist that the viewer will not perceive his work as promoting disrespect or a negative attitude. This is not his intention at all. On the contrary, there were many poses and faces of the kids being silly that he chose not to include in the mural for that very reason. Rather, his intention was to depict something about kids that is truly wonderful.
In discussions of spirituality, the notion of being child-like before God is extolled. Being child-like, as we know, is not the same as being childish. A childish person is selfish, whiny, moody, and defiant. One who is child-like, however, is innocent, vibrant, joyful, full of life and full of potential. The child manifests wonder, amazement, and an insatiable desire to learn about the world around him. The child trusts, even though he may be frightened, when he feels the loving hand of a parent. The child knows that everything will be all right.
That is what is so incredible about kids. They bring happiness into the world. When people grow up and find themselves in a world that is cruel, unfair, and heavy-handed, there are these little people that remind us there is reason to hope. They can enjoy themselves, using the remnants of destruction for their playthings. And being creative, they often need no amusement but their own imagination.
Of the children that have passed through the walls of Holy Family Home and Shelter, many have experienced horrendous circumstances in their few short years. Some have witnessed, or have been the victims themselves of, great violence and abuse. In many ways, their childhood has been robbed from them. Amazingly, however, they can still retain innocence and vitality. The artist has tried to make the mural fun for the kids to help create an environment in which they can enjoy their childhood.
God, in His sacramental method, uses everyday things to teach the world of His love. When St. Therese fretted about offending the Lord when she fell asleep at prayer, He reminded her that just as a parent loves his child all the more when she falls asleep in his lap, so did God love Therese when she fell asleep in His lap. In the same way, this lesson of children's resilience has been the most remarkable of experiences that this artist has learned at the shelter. Though the world is difficult, and at times, evil, the Lord wants His children, of all ages, not to accept defeat, childishly focusing only on themselves, but to remain child-like, trusting with wild abandon in the joy of His love. What parent does not take joy in the occasional silliness of a child? Does not God do the same? The Great Something that this artist has endeavored to convey to viewers of all ages is this: Life is to be lived, loved, and enjoyed with great exuberance, for God wants nothing less than our all.