Review: Matt Appling’s Life After Art

Appling contends, “There are a lot of things you and I used to know about life and faith  and the world. No one taught us these things, they were just given to us by our Creator. But over the years, this native knowledge about the world around us got covered up. And that has shaped and colored our lives in negative ways ever since then” (13). From his experience as an art teacher, he tells us how many of children lose this knowledge and wonder at art and the world. “Creating often feels out of place in the world of adults, a curious relic of our innocent pasts. Creating seems like child’s play” (32).

Especially as adults we forget what true beauty is and how lose our creative way. In the midst of this artistic aimlessness, we are sometimes jolted into honest contemplation of beauty and ugliness. “Everyone once in a while, we are touched profoundly by the ugliness that humanity is capable of creativity, because we realize that we don’t have to turn on the news to see it. We don’t have to blame others for it. We, too, are just as capable of creating it” (67).

Appling makes four observations to return us to the creativity of our youth. First, don’t settle for good enough—the low standards keep us constrained. Second, the constraints of our life provide freedom to create. They help us redeem the darkness in our life (99). Third, we must embrace the freedom to fail. Embracing the freedom, allows us to take risks and to be generous with our talents. “The world needs you, and it needs your gifts. You must become generous with yourself again. But you will only become generous  with yourself when you are able to release your fear of failure” (122). Fourth, “creations always say something about their creator” (134). He encourages us to be purposeful about what you create.Be purposeful about what you create.

The theses is compelling, but I wanted more depth and analysis. Despite this minor quibble, Life After Art is worth reading especially for young adults and parents. Young adults needs to remember what it means to create so that they don’t abandon creating wasting the formative years of life. Parents should remember the above points, but also it can be a formative resource in disicpling children.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Mathew B. Sims is the author of A Household Gospel: Fulfilling the Great Commission in Our Homes and writes for CBMW Manual, Gospel-Centered Discipleship, Borrowed Light, and other publications. He also works as the managing editor at Gospel-Centered Discipleship and offers freelance editing and book formatting services. He is a member at Downtown Presbyterian Church in Greenville, SC.