Giftedness and Othersight

“Ephphatha” by the wonderful artist, Nathan-Brown

Linking you to two sites because you need to go see them yourself, rather than getting excerpts. Both of them reinforce a point I tried but failed to make a while back, about the use of art, and why it must be nurtured, valued and supported. Artists see things the rest of us do not. By “othersight” I don’t mean anything occultic. I simply mean the view of the inmost being -which I suspect brings us into a kind of commonality- brought forward and articulated on behalf of all of us.

I am not profound in this, of course, but increasingly people seem to take a practical mindset and relegate art to the sidelines. Recently I spoke to a dad whose 3 year-old daughter dances all day long; she would rather express herself through dance, than through speaking. For her dance is purer expression than speech. Words have so many things behind them, undertones, expediencies, confusing dualities.

The dad is concerned: you can’t make a living off of dancing; she can dance as a hobby. I asked, “but what if she is meant to be great; what if she is meant to communicate something through dance that will rock our world?”

That went over like the proverbial lead balloon.

Msgr. Charles Pope looks at “the gift” of art and introduces us to two prodigies. You will marvel. I was particularly struck by the composure of the 6 year old pianist. The young painter is a teenager, now.

Then, courtesy of my Elder Son, who always brings me interesting stuff, take a look at this:

The piece is a burroughs style cut-up poetry collage which forms the picture of Abraham Lincoln’s Assassination at Ford Theater. The piece was made over the course of 3 years.

After it loads, you can zoom in. It is…remarkable.

Randomness; Event Horizon
Ephphatha, Be Opened

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • newguy40

    Perhaps I am being to much attuned to my own life experience but, I will say this about nurturing art or even a “passion” for a child.

    My older son has been very interested in film making and I have made every effort to support him timewise and dollarwise. And, the hardware and software ain’t cheap. He wants to make a career of film making. Is he talented enough? I think so but I am biased But, I’ll tell you further that he is madly and passionately in love with every aspect of it.

    Growing up I had a very strong passion around a particular vocation (not religious…) that was absolutely contrary to what my parents thougt was best for me. So, I never pursued it. And, almost everyday have the “what might have been” conversations with myself.

    If nothing else, I don’t want my kid to live with those same “If I had only…”

  • F

    Anchoress, please, PLEASE, talk to that dad again. Tell him from me, I was that little girl who only danced and danced. In fact, each night in my mom’s wedding petticoats to Swan Lake. I’d never been on stage at age 3 but, could “see” in my mind the blackness of the theater and the bright white lights. Who knew I’d later take 2 performing arts degrees. BUT! Its the in between times, when, my art, my blood, my vocation had to be a “Hobby” as he said, that I faced certain physical, mental, emotional and moral death. Tell him he’s blind and should not shut away her little spirit so easily behind his fear based words. My parents allowed me to follow my dreams and supported me, all the while encouraging practicality too. There is no need to kill an artists soul with so much fear. Instead, teach her to be well balanced and to build good skills alongside her art. Its possible. I’m living proof. I would die without my art. Its my connection to God in a way faith could never ever be. Can’t use words for this, but, to come close with words would be to say that when I’m doing what HE designed me to be and do, I’m almost in a river of white light, energy, bliss, joy, exhilaration and ease. Its a blend of blisses and blessings one cannot fully and clearly impart to another’s understanding. But, when the artist is in “it” it is surely like being in God, with God and interwoven with God.

    Thanks for this post. I’ll pray for that very girl. She’ll be my spiritual protege.


  • tim maguire

    Did that dad really say she can’t make living dancing? Plenty of people make a living dancing. Only a few may make an extravagant living, but many make a happy one.

  • Beth

    To Newguy, never say never! When you have a passion for art, be it visual art, music, or whatever, it’s never too late to pursue it. After raising my children and having retired from the working world, I prayed that God would give me a new purpose. I have always loved music, but didn’t pursue it professionally. Instead, I went to law school. Two years ago during my time of prayer, I kept getting these words, which I believe were from the Lord. They were: ” I am doing a new thing.” Then I began to have thoughts about returning to playing a musical instrument I had not played since high school: the clarinet. I decided to brush up on my skills, took lessons for a few months, and ever since have been playing with a large community band, and a small ensemble of some very skilled musicians. It has brought tremendous joy and meaning to my life, and I have not ceased thanking God for it!

    As far as your son’s filmmaking interest goes, I say, keep encouraging him. Both my children went to film school and have been able to find work, although it is an extremely competitive business ( and not a Christian environment, so be warned).

  • JY

    She’s three years old. He’s just worried that maybe her preferring not to speak much is a sign of a more serious language impairment that will have greater effects over time. Dance, music, art– all beautiful and deep, yes, but it’s essential in our very verbal, text-reliant society for people to have linguistic skills. Everyone takes this for granted, but as someone who works in the field of speech and language disorders, I know these delays can be huge obstacles in people’s lives. The vast majority of jobs do require good language skills, and even those that seem not to, do.

    And never mind jobs– it affects kids on so many levels, depriving them of the stories and vocabulary that other kids are getting, hindering their social lives, crippling their self-esteem. I’ve seen kids who were slow to speak and slow to start reading who, by age 12, would burst into tears just at the sight of a five-line text message because text, all text, is hard for them to get through, and even if they “decoded” it properly they would miss the meaning. Even artists who work in nonlinguistic realms benefit from having adequate language skills, just as any person regardless of occupation benefits from being able to express himself, communicate with others, engage in higher-level thinking, etc. This situation is not comparable to that of a teenager who really likes film. The parents of that teen already know what his general cognitive ability is, they already have the assurance that he doesn’t have a serious language impairment that could cripple his life. It’s absolutely appropriate for a parent to be concerned if a toddler seems unusually reluctant to participate in language.

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  • Maureen

    Saying that a three year old likes to dance more than talk is hardly the same as saying “I know this totally nonverbal three year old”. Sheesh.

    When I was three, I liked to read books more than play games, but that didn’t mean I couldn’t play Monopoly, or tag, or baseball, or whatever was going on in the neighborhood.

    Don’t assume there’s a learning problem unless somebody says so. Just because you’re a carpenter, doesn’t mean we’re all hammers and nails.

    That said, God bless you for worrying.

  • dymphna

    How sad. Three years old and her poor father is already worried about how she’ll make a living. She’s three. Next month she may fall in love with finger painting or making “art” out of dry macaroni.

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  • pam

    Anchoress if I may be so bold as to say that I think you would really like this interview with Barbara Nicolosi.


  • Sharon Ferguson

    This is a moment when I like to pull out Dorothy Sayer’s book “The Mind of the Maker”. As a writer, this has helped me see how God’s gift of writing to me is ‘on loan’ as Rush would put it, and how nothing God gives us is without value. Too many conservatives devalue art as unworthy of the true purpose when God Himself is an Artist of the wildest and most glorious abandon.

  • Tom


    Please pass along this link to the father of that little girl.


    It’s a talk by Sir Ken Robinson, ostensibly on the way that schools kill creativity in children, but his first example of the paradigm being circumvented is a story about a little girl who became a famous dancer and choreographer.