-by Jared Adamson-
It is my opinion that much of the debate about art revolves around opinion. It is not so much about right or wrong, good or bad; it is about what I like. And you can’t tell me that I’m wrong, because it is my opinion. Often times we can identify some objective measures or procedures for evaluating elements of art, but the bottom line just comes down to the individuals’ experiences.
- Perhaps you like it because of its beauty. Not everyone agrees.
- Perhaps it stirred you to action. Others passed complacently.
- Perhaps it offends your sensitivities. Maybe that was the point.
- Perhaps you missed the artists’ intent. Or maybe you totally get it when others do not.
No matter a positive or negative view/experience, your opinion is true for you because it is your opinion. I’m not trying to talk in circles. Your perception is your reality, artistically speaking.
For me, part of the rubric for art appreciation is a form’s memorability. How well do I remember a project or experience after it is over? Some performances or encounters are one-and-done (I had the experience, but it is soon forgotten). Other times, it sticks with me, whether good or bad, and I draw upon that experience for many years to come.
I still remember an all-too-vivid account the first R-rated movie I saw as an under-aged child. The vivid depiction of war still disturbs me. Nearly 40 years later, I can still remember the scenes, actors and dialogue, but even more so the raw emotions I had to process as the houselights came to full in the theater. Perhaps to the critics, this is not a great cinematic project, but to me, the art is great because of my experience with it.
One of my most personal art experiences came when I was cast in a production of Miss Saigon. For those unfamiliar with this musical, it revolves around the lives of a G.I. serving in Vietnam during the war that falls in love with a young Vietnamese girl. And yet, the ravages of war separate them. As Woody Allen said, “so, of course, it had to be a musical”.
It is one of my favorite shows because of the epic score that takes the viewer/listener from the heights of love through the panic of governments at war to the anguish of loved ones left behind. When I first saw the show, it left me emotionally raw—and I love it for that.
And yet when I was cast in the show, I began to see parallels between my own life and those of the characters; it became more memorable because the fiction was more fact-like to me.
- When I read between the lines of script and lyrics, I saw that the child (spoiler alert) was born on or around my actual birthdate and year.
- A major plot point comes from the lives of the multi-racial orphans left behind when the U.S. pulls out. In that all 3 of my children are adopted, this struck a nerve with me.
- My oldest son was nearly cast in the role of the child. Though the role went to another, bonding with my son through theatre is a cherished memory.
And all this came rushing back to me this week when Facebook reminded me of a video I posted a few years back. Maybe this video won’t move you. Maybe it won’t make you smile. Maybe you’ve no more desire to see Miss Saigon because of this cute kid singing. Maybe.
But maybe my memories jog your memories of an artistic experience. Maybe you’re reminded of a profound plot point in a favorite novel or play. Maybe it’ll take you down memory lane with your favorite Greatest Hits album.
True art, great art, lives on—not because simply it has any essential or inherent value on it’s own, but rather because it is true and great in the hearts, minds and souls of those who remember their encounter with it.
Jared Adamson 9/7/2017
Jared Adamson is the Minister of Worship and Creative Arts at Centerville Christian Church in Centerville, IN. Studying voice, composition, organ and improv, he has a Bachelor of Music in Church Music with a double major in Bible and piano from Cincinnati Christian University where he later served as an adjunct professor in the music and worship department.