“Can you draw an elephant?!” he asked excitedly.
The little boy watched intently as the man drew smooth fluid lines on the piece of notebook paper. First a round body, then large floppy ears. A long trunk, and two husks. Large, sturdy legs. The little boy watched in amazement. This man could draw anything. “What if you gave him some clothes?” the boy giggled. The man drew. “He should be playing music!” the boy exclaimed, getting more excited as he watched the elephant come to life.
They sat alone together at the small breakfast table in the dimly-lit kitchen, apart from all of the others. Bursts of laughter exploded from the bright living room, where all the adults were gathered. It was getting late. The boy looked up at the man, waiting for a hint in his face that would give away his longing to join the others. But the man only pushed the sketchbook toward the boy.
“Now you try.”
He fumbled with the pencil as he held it in his little hands, copying the smooth fluid lines that made up the elephant.
“Garrett, it’s time to go home now.” came his mother’s voice as she walked into the kitchen, startling his concentration.
“Mom, look at this!” He ripped a page out of the sketchbook she had given him for such a time as this, fumbling off the cushioned chair as he proudly ran up to her.
“Wow! Look at that. Maybe you can color it in when we get home.”
As they walked out the door, the little boy’s hand in his mother’s, he looked back at the man. “Thank you for spending time with me,” he whispered in his heart.
As the boy grew up, he would seek constantly the feelings he felt in that shared creative space. The delight of discovery, the sacredness of creative communion, and the joy of sharing.
Today, singer-songwriter and visual artist Garrett Moore is offering his own curious creations to the world, and relishes in the opportunity for the connection they bring. As we sat in a bustling coffee shop, he giddily laughed as he retold his childhood moments of creative exploration. Garrett’s creativity has been a lifelong process and project. But today, he shared about his newest musical project: a premier album titled “In the Open,” featuring the lyrical sounds of his baritone ukulele. “In The Open” is both a story and a journey, with each piece touching on the main idea of the project title.
When things are done in the open, they are done in the light. And for a few hours, Garrett was an open book as we talked about faith, creating, and how the urge to do so makes us human and makes us holy.
Who or what inspires you?
“I’m really inspired by people that can make an idea come to fruition. They have great ideas, but it doesn’t stop there. It becomes something. I enjoy people that have a vision and also can bring people beside them to execute it and make it happen. I can observe their life and hear their goals and see that it doesn’t just stay a dream. They’re all people that cultivate community in a creative way.”
How does your faith prompt you to create?
“Creativity comes out of my identity. My identity is a beloved child of the Father—of God. I feel that our God is creative. Us being made in his image, we have that creativity. I am prompted to use the gifts that I’ve been given to honor Him. I feel called to love the people around me, and I feel that sharing things that I’m passionate about through what I create is a way that I love to connect with others. I love sharing in the creative process with others. A common command in the Bible is “do not be afraid.” In engaging creativity, you have to come up against failure a lot and be able to face it. Doing that with others is so exciting. I’ve been in environments where someone isn't so confident, and then all of a sudden they're learning something, and realizing something, and then we’re creating in real time, creating and getting feedback right away. Music is the ideal way for me to engage creatively with other people. Not being afraid, loving one another, and not burying my talents in the ground are ways that my faith prompts me to create.
How do you express your faith in your art and music?
“This question draws answers,
but which one's the truth?
The word shared in community
becomes clear in solitude.
Once we get our answer,
will these meetings resume,
Or is this the final story?
It's the full story.”
Lyrics from The Whole Truth
“All my work is worship any time I’m creating. In the content of my work - say, if I am writing lyrics and singing - I’ll include questions that I have, or testimony; a little bit of my story. Trying to share it in a way that others can connect to. Another way is just sharing hope. I got some feedback from my sister, actually. I asked her about what she thought about my sound, my music, and she said it was kind of “bluesy, but hopeful.” I try to invoke a lot of emotion in what I write, but also like to have playful encouragement. There’s a song I wrote called “Boiling” which is talking about being patient. It’s about taking that familiar scenario of waiting for the water to boil to make pasta and really animating that experience. We all need patience for this sort of thing, you know? If you look beyond the surface of it, it’s a reminder to endure. Although waiting for your food is not really a tribulation (laughs), it’s just encouraging. “The Beginning was Frightening” is a song where I was really trying to reflect on the beginning of my relationship with God, and share the gospel, in a very short way, through that journey. The one song that includes a lot of questions is called “The Whole Truth.” That song was inspired by the woman waiting for many years and found healing when she touched Jesus’ cloak. In the scriptures it says that she shared the “whole truth”. I was wondering, what was that? What did she say? I was thinking about how in that song, when we look at the word together in community, sometimes we don’t really have a complete understanding. But when we begin to process and see it play out in our life, it comes. It’s kind of contemplative, thoughtful, but playful and encouraging.”
In what ways do creating and our humanity go together? How do you feel they relate?
“Wow! Okay. When you asked that, I think about a lot of words. I think about “nurture,” I think about a garden. In a creative process, we’re taking care of something. We’re seeing something from a seed to the growing stage, to the harvest. That relates to us being worked on - God working on us. In the beginning, you have this idea; that’s the essence of your piece. In some way, throughout the whole process, you’re honoring that original idea. As you’re working you’re refining it, you’re discovering things, you’re surprised by things. It’s that original idea that is really what you don’t lose sight of - why you started creating it. With humanity, God hasn’t lost sight of the original image and the original idea for us. He’s pruning us! So I definitely relate it to that.
...I just remembered hearing that frustration with a friend of mine and his garden. He was like “The crops aren’t doing what I want! I got the seed and it’s not the multi-sunflower, it’s just one! At least that’s what it looks like right now.” Hearing that frustration in that symbolic way, we can learn so much about God’s heart. In creating I can see that He’s gentle and that He has vision and that He’s patient. It requires those same things in us.”
What are you in the process of creating right now?
“I’m in the process of creating an album right now. It’s my first project with multiple songs. This album, and the idea of it, is called “In the Open.” It's kind of bridging my visual work with my audio work. There’s a song that I thought of sharing, the working title is called “First Bicycle Ride.” which comes out of feedback from someone that heard it. It is just an instrumental piece. I shared it in a creative group, we were all sharing something we were working on, and she said it was the first song that really took her back to a positive memory. It was the first time she rode a bicycle. I thought that’s a really beautiful picture, and I want to honor that feedback. The song is trying to embody things I value - of plein air drawing and painting, painting out in the landscape, and observing things; trying to observe things with childlike eyes and not trying to assume that I know what I’m seeing, but investigate it closely. I'm trying to do that in my workplace and visually with what I’m drawing. I’m trying to work with this aesthetic of documentary media, so it’s going to feel kind of like a visual. To me, the album feels like a documentary. It feels like it’s a place for this work that I’m interested in now to touch down. I’m actually surprised that there’s not a lot of words to the work; it’s very instrumental. Hopefully in sharing it and listening to it it would evoke those feelings of visual hope. There's one song that I'm working on and the only words in it are, “You Can Forgive.” You can forgive. I realized in singing it how powerful that word is. Forgive. FOR-give. The ‘g’ and the ‘f’ and the force… I was just reflecting on it, and why when I say those words, I think forgiveness is so important for us. It’s made possible through Jesus that we can. I don’t know, I just want to say those things. I was reading this book, and it was taking me through the Beatitudes and every chapter had to do with some kind of healing. In the Beatitudes it talks about how the pure at heart will see God. It’s all about cultivating that pure heart. One of the chapters talks about forgiving your parents. I reflect on my relationship with my parents and I don’t see a lot of things standing out as things that I should forgive them for, but it was talking about how even the subtle things, like when your mom looks at you and she doesn’t have love in her eyes, how that effects you. Look at that and really process it and then forgive. Even in doing that I've found healing, in areas that I didn’t even think I was hurting. I want to offer that to others too. You can forgive. I feel like there's a question, “This thing in my life was so bad, how can I even forgive”? But that’s the way. That’s the way.”
Garrett’s album exposes, reveals and clarifies as it brings things out in the open . Songs like “You Can Forgive” reveals hurts and fears; “The Bicycle Ride” exposes the journey of overcoming failure, having joy and accomplishing something. Each song touches on the intricacies found in the shared human experience. Garrett takes us on this journey with his baritone ukulele—the soothing sounds reminding us that life can be full of play and whimsy, and most importantly we are not alone.
To Garrett, a work is not complete until it’s shared. Sharing a piece of work is not simply a way of saying “I’m done,” but is the most important part of the creative process. “Finishing this album and sharing it with people is taking a leap of faith and modeling the things I’m trying to encourage in others. I’m believing through my actions.” A beautiful reminder we need each other to be complete.