St. John Paul II once said, “Every genuine art form in its own way is a path to the inmost reality of man and of the world. It is therefore a wholly valid approach to the realm of faith, which gives human experience its ultimate meaning. That is why the Gospel fullness of truth was bound from the beginning to stir the interest of artists, who by their very nature are alert to every “epiphany” of the inner beauty of things.” (John Paul II, Letter to Artists). Artists and creators are evangelists who act keenly in the path of beauty and unveil it to the world. Today, Jared Zimmerer chats with one such artist, Cory Heimann of Likable Art, about beauty, vocation, and the need to express Christ.
Tell us about yourself and how you found yourself to become an artist.
When I was in high school, I remember if you took 8 art classes and got all A’s or B’s you would receive a special arts certificate upon graduation. I purposely took only 7 classes to make sure that I didn’t receive that certificate because I thought that certificate would mean that I’m lazy. Come to find out those classes came easy to me not because they were lazy classes, but because I was passionate about art, and I loved every second. It took me a while after high school to come to that realization, but it didn’t take long in college for me to realize these design and video pieces I was making on the side was something that I could actually pursue. I started spending my summers doing media work and by the time I graduated I had stumbled into freelance work and have developing those skills ever since.
Likable Art states: ‘Because He first created, we are inspired, we create Likable Art.’ Can you unfold that for us?
The first five words in the Bible are, “In the beginning God Created.” So if that’s true than we as artists, as makers, as creators are sharing in the first thing that God did. With that comes a great responsibility and is the inspiration and catalyist of all of our work. We see our job as not to make something that stands alone to get high praise, but instead to make things that are likable and beautiful and let that point to something greater than the art itself.
You’ve spoken a lot about art and the need for good art and beauty. Why is beauty so important? And why would you say the modern world is so starving for authentic beauty?
There are three transcendentals: Truth, Beauty and Goodness. I see beauty as the gateway to the other two transcendentals. In order to bring someone to accept truth we have to show that it is truly beautiful. A friend of mine Tyler Peltier passed away some years ago and I was going back and reading some of the things he had written and he said this, “If I were to have a mission, I assume it would be the following: To present Christ, Christ as irresistable to the yearning heart.” That has stuck with me and I have adopted it as my own mission. Our current generation has a deep yearing for something, we see it in every aspect culture. And if we truly think that Christ is what will truly fill that yearning than it is our role to show that Christ is truly irresistable.
Who are your artistic heroes both modern and ancient?
Ancient: I’m a big fan of St. Thomas the dumb ox, Davinci, and Michelangelo. I love the way Caravaggio plays with light and shadows. The spirtual writings of Thomas A Kempis and St. Francis DeSales. Modern: I’m a sucker for authenticity. Who is willing to really wrestle with modern communication and share genuinely. People who I find doing that in the Church: Christopher West, Bishop Barron (and I’m not just saying that because this is for Word on Fire), David Kang (produced the Humanum Series), Chuck Kinnane (Filmmaker), Anthony Visco (painter), Fabi Garza (Disney character designer) My wife Marie (water color artist). People outside of the Catholic Church I see striving for the same: Casey Neistat, Gungor, Glen Hansard, Bono, and Morgan Spurlock.
How has being an artist influenced your vocation as a husband and father?
I sort of feel like I’m a little too much in the thick of things to give you well thought out answer. As I mentioned earlier I think we create because God created and God’s greatest creation is man and woman. So having children in collaboration with my wife is the greatest piece of art I could dream of having, and the closest I’ve ever felt to the work of God.
If you could say one thing to all the artists reading, what would that be?
I would probably tell all the people that read that question assuming this answer is not for them: You are an artist! We are all artists because God is.