Tonight, Brad and I will attend a fundraiser for the Toonseum, a small gem of a museum in Pittsburgh dedicated to the cartoon and comic book arts. Brad and I aren’t particular aficionados of this art form. In fact, our interest probably fits best in the passing fancy category. Our impetus for buying tickets to the event was that a good friend is on the board of the Toonseum, and we love our friend, so we want to support his passion. Meeting Pittsburgh “royalty”—like Rick Sebak, Pittsburgh Dad, and David Newell (Mr. McFeely from Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood)—was also a draw, I won’t lie.
But the more I’ve thought about it, the more I’ve realized that supporting the Toonseum is worth doing just on its own merit. Cartoon and comic book art is every bit as much art as Monet’s “Water Lilies” or Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto. It is worthy of saving and displaying and cherishing—not because of how many people might like the art form—but because it represents someone’s creative expression. It is worthy of considering because, like all art forms, it is often a reflection of society, or in some cases maybe, how society could or should be. I may not understand some of it or be drawn to its content or visual form, but it has intrinsic beauty and worth.
If left to my own devices, I’m guilty of appreciating and making time for only creative forms I enjoy most—baroque and classical music, Impressionist and Romantic paintings and sculpture, movies that make me smile, literature with a great story and redeeming ending. But now and then, it is exciting and important to experience forms that fall outside our norm—whether that’s a newly composed atonal piece at the symphony or an entire exhibit with humanoid forms made out of stuffed pantyhose at the art museum.
I’m also guilty of having held a fairly narrow view of what creativity or art is, reserving that designation for something you’d see on a gallery wall, read for a book report, or hear from a symphony or band. However, I am learning to see that creativity takes many forms, and we are all creators in our own ways. Whether coming up with a new superhero, writing and delivering a powerful sermon, growing a garden, or arranging furniture in a room to maximize its use and beauty—(or maybe even writing a blog??)—these are all acts of creativity, and they express something about the character, experiences, and environment of the maker.
The challenge when encountering something creative is to not evaluate it through our personal lens of what is art or what is “good,” but rather to simply appreciate the creative process, the person behind the work, and the fact that our Creator has made us all to be creators.