LeAnne Martin
Christians in the Arts

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Roundtable 4: Engaging with the Arts

I’m concluding this week’s Roundtable by talking with arts enthusiast Calvin Edwards. Calvin is an executive with more than 20 years experience working with charitable, educational, and religious institutions. In 2001 he founded Calvin Edwards & Company (www.calvinedwardscompany.com), to “maximize the good of giving” by consulting with philanthropists as they support faith-based causes.

LeAnne: Why do you love the arts? Have you always loved them?

I love the arts because they make me think in new ways, they help me see the world from a different perspective. I like who I am, or who I become, when I engage with the arts.

Now, I realize that some people will think this is a little peculiar, that my love for the arts revolves around thinking—some would say the arts are about feeling, imagining, and experiencing, not something cerebral like thinking. And the arts surely are about all those things. My point is precisely that one thinks differently as a result of feeling things.

One cannot help but be deeply moved by the contrast between grace and law in Les Miserable, that monumental metaphor set in the French Revolution. To immerse in that profound and engaging story is to emerge a different person. How? After being there, I think about life differently. I understand the power of grace and want to show it to others. It is more than just a great story, it changes lives. Ultimately the arts help to shape who I am, what I believe, and how I think.

Have I always loved them? The short answer is “no.” I grew up in rural New Zealand where sheep grazed outside my bedroom window. My friends’ dads drove bulldozers in a logging town. There was beauty in my life, but not the arts. However, my father had a great collection of classical and sacred music on 7” spools of tape that I learned to load on a tape player when I was a teenager.

I came to love and appreciate the arts as a college student when I was invited into a circle of friends who loved music, drama, and literature--and many performed, some even performed live on the Australian ABC. I remember thinking how peculiar it was to lie on the floor and listen to Mozart or Handel on an old gramophone when others were listening to Bob Dylan, Led Zeppelin, or AC/DC. I’m grateful to those friends who introduced me to the world of the arts.

Coming soon: a photographer, a composer, and an actor

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