There is a lot of bad art out there. I don't want to put too fine a point on it, because what seems like "bad art" to me might be just the ticket for someone else. Art is subjective, which means that you and I can come to different conclusions about its value, its meaning, its efficacy. Even so, there is a lot of bad art out there.
And thank God for that.
Creating art is a risky endeavor. It requires vulnerability, honesty, and creativity. When I was at the Level Ground Festival back in February of this year, I saw some incredible art--dances with beautiful choreography; poetry that made me think and feel; collages that wove disparate elements together with elegance. I saw some other things, too, things that made me curious, made me scratch my head, made me wonder if I got it. At some level, though, that is the point.
I can't "get" everyone's art because I haven't been in everyone's shoes. The purpose of Level Ground--creating a space for dialogue about faith, gender, and sexuality through the arts--means that I am going to encounter stories from people whose backgrounds are different from mine. I am not a member of the LGBT community, and it is hard for me to imagine what that is like--especially while trying to maintain a commitment to Christ. Conversations and relationships are the primary path to empathy and understanding, but art plays an important role, too. Art can soften a pointed message.
To make art requires courage. Sometimes the final product is still sloppy, or hard to understand, or amateur. But I am so grateful that there are people in this world who will offer their imperfect creation to people like me, people who do not know what it is like to walk in their shoes. I am so grateful there are people who take risks to talk, sing, dance, and paint about what it is like to be LGBT and have faith in God, even while the larger church hasn't been a friendly place for some of them. Art gives our stories a form, and those stories help us to love one another well, or at least better. Even if it isn't done perfectly. Even if it's bad, the art is still good.