God made my life complete when I placed all the pieces before him. Psalm 18:20 MSG
Because, in the words of Pope Benedict XVI, art has the ability to:
“speak to the heart of humanity, to touch individual and collective sensibilities, to call forth dreams and hopes, to broaden the horizons of knowledge and of human engagement.”
These pieces of art by the Nigerian artist El Anatsui are made from discarded liquor bottle caps. On a walk one day he came across a trash bag of these caps, brought them back to his art studio, and began to create art tapestries by linking them together with copper wire.
But the art is more than art to El Anatsui:
He also feels a connection between Europe, Africa and the Americas . . . because alcohol was an item traded for human slaves.
The destructive effects of alcohol have fueled abuse of many humans all over the world, destroyed many a family, and left many discarded hearts with sorrows, wounds, and lingering regret.
I stood in front of the first piece of art and cried, for how alcohol has created brokenness in my own world. As I moved to listen to other pieces, I cried for how alcohol continues to create brokenness in our world.
Just this morning I read a news article of a teenage girl who drank too much at a party, and in a semi-conscious state was stripped naked and abused by two drunk teen boys. Nobody at the party stopped it.
I wonder, if she could see this piece of art, would she see the small piece of it that is the story of her life–rewoven into a tapestry of hope, beauty and new life?
Would she, could she, see how much more the divine artist–THE creator, God–can take the pieces of brokenness in all our lives and weave them into a tapestry of such beauty?
I cry more. Perhaps, just perhaps, this is a small glimpse of the beauty of heaven . . . where all brokenness is redeemed, all the stories of our lives are joined, and every discarded remnant of pain turns to joy.
Where we become beauty from brokenness.
I pray you hear the hope in this art today–the hope for the beauty that can be wrought from the broken pieces of your life and mine.
The art of El Anatsui is currently on exhibit at:
The Brooklyn Museum through August 4, 2013
The University of Michigan Museum of Art through May 5, 2013
Meet El Anatsui and see more of his art on this short video:
More Beauty from Brokenness: