Why We’re Drawn to Create in Chaotic Times

By Daniel Jones


“Pandemics are notorious for upending all of society. Artists are notorious for creating art under the most perilous and inopportune circumstances.”

-Heather O’Neill, “Art during the time of coronavirus”

In our house, I’ve become more familiar with our walls than I ever thought I would—I’ve pondered new paint jobs, filling in holes and rearranging artwork. I’ve longed for something to lift my eyes and take my gaze off the familiar, unchanged walls of my home and onto something more interesting, thoughtful, life-giving and beautiful.
And so, in the midst of this pandemic season, I have appreciated the unexpected moments of sheer beauty and creativity that have emerged from the arts community. From violinists and opera singers sharing songs from their balconies on YouTube to families singing show tunes in harmony to theatre live-readings, Instagram spoken word and isolation film festivals. From photos of beauty from the past and present to virtual art galleries, such as the one produced in May at MARKnest.

We Are Drawn to Create

Creativity has emerged from all corners of the globe—for fun and entertainment—to offer thanks and gratitude and to connect us and make sense of this new world and new normal we are all living in.
And that’s because we are drawn to create. We are drawn to tell of our experiences. We are drawn to get hands-on, molding and shaping something that is our own, something that reflects the world we are in and that helps us linger, if only for moments at a time, on something lovely and beautiful. And we are especially drawn to do that in times that aren’t so lovely or beautiful, in times of tension, conflict, displacement and crisis. Great art is made during times such as these. And we only have to look as far as our Facebook feeds to see interesting and important and improvised art being made.

God as Artist

And we only have to look to Genesis 1 to see the creative artist God hover over the face of the chaotic waters, the swirling scary mess that was Tohu Bohu* and make something beautiful and sustaining and full of life. And at the end of day six, God takes a step back and looks at it…His creation, He says, is very good!
So, if we are made in God’s image, after his likeness, we too, can make something very good out of this season and in such a time as this. And while we can’t (and shouldn’t even try) to make something out of swirling, chaotic Tohu Bohu waters, through art, we can make sense of our experience, tell of our experience, and move away from dwelling in shadows and dark, scary places and into places of beauty, light, possibility and hope.

Art Invites Us to Connect With Each Other

In this season, it’s important to remember that art can bring us together as a community of people—in a home, neighbourhood, church, city and more. We can creatively find ways to make art together, to connect though story and participate in remembering all that transpires. We can tell of this time together and walk with one another until we come to the other side of this season.

Create With Us This Summer

Collaborative art-making restores our sense of identity, community and connection with God. As Mark Cooper said in Making Art Together, “Together we can create what we could never create alone.” So join us in a summer of collaborative art as we reflect on weekly prompts in a photo challenge called Vignettes. For more details, click here.

*TOHU BOHU: From an unused root meaning to lie waste and be empty; a desolation; confusion; an empty place without form; nothing, void.

DANIEL JONES is an Artist-In-Residence with InterVarsity, a professional actor and someone who loves telling story and seeing others empowered to do the same, through any or all of the arts. He is based out of Toronto, ON.