by Zoë Rogers
Often times I find myself frustrated by the hard truth that I cannot reach perfection. I cannot live perfect, I cannot act perfect, I cannot be perfect. Nothing done by my hands has the capacity to be without fault--it’s simply not in my DNA.
I graduated from college with a degree in visual arts where I was reminded this hard truth every day.
About a month and a half ago, I moved to Orlando and began working here at First Pres in the mission department. I’ve been serving as the Creative Coordinator for FOUR12, an afterschool program for middle and high school students. I was brought on board to teach students art with the hope that they would learn to see and create beauty in new ways.
Every art project I have introduced so far has encouraged each student to embrace imperfection rather than live in fear of it. This is my mission statement as an artist- to lean into the messiness and mistakes that come from our human creation and learn from them.
Earlier this month, I taught the group an art lesson that functions solely on this idea: blind contour portraits. The process is simple- you draw a portrait of the person sitting across from you without looking at your paper and never picking your pen up from the paper. If what you’re imagining in your head looks ridiculous, it’s because it is. That’s the whole point.
After being met with an understandable amount of resistance from the students towards drawing in this backwards way, they eventually began letting themselves be freed to play and make in accurate and imperfect portraits of each other. They began showing each other their drawings rather than hiding them because they “look bad”.
Something that would have been a catalytic lesson for me in my teenage years would have been knowing that my brokenness and imperfection is not something that needs to be hidden. Not from my friends or classmates, not from my parents or teachers or mentors, and certainly not from God. Jesus died for me while I was a sinner, not while I was perfect. It would have changed my life if I had been told that striving for perfection means striving for an ever-moving finish line.
My goal is to teach these students this truth of the gospel through the metaphor of art. Jesus doesn’t need them to be perfect, doesn’t need them to work in order to earn His love or forgiveness. He just needs them to claim what has already been given to them in Himself, and meets them exactly as they are-- imperfect, messy, funny-looking blind contour portraits.