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Unleashing Your Artistic Gift With Clare McCallan


Father Dave welcomes Clare McCallan, founder and creative director of St. Joseph’s Home for Artisans, TV and podcast host, and spoken word poet, to the show to discuss her new book, Courage to Create: Unleashing Your Artistic Gifts for Truth, Beauty, and Goodness.

In her book, Clare and her artist friends ask the question, “How do you own your identity as an artist for Christ?” Through a series of stories and lessons, they share their wisdom for overcoming obstacles in the creative life to help artists fulfill their callings and serve the Lord.  

Clare begins her discussion with Father Dave by highlighting the final three words in the title of her book: “Truth, Beauty and Goodness.” Clare defines each term by posing a reflection question. “Truth – is something in accordance with reality? Beauty – does it point to the divine and eternal? And goodness – does something accomplish its purpose?”  She goes on to say, “Art as just mere self expression is really the lowest kind, but art that meets those metrics of truth, beauty and goodness, are really the only thing worth accepting in and outside of religious spaces.” 

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Father Dave invites Clare to share a little bit of her own journey as an artist and asks what ultimately led her to writing this book.  She explains that she went to school at Franciscan University and ended up in Calcutta with the Missionaries of Charity. While in India, she became very sick. While she was bedridden, she discovered spoken word poetry and decided that when she returned to the United States, she would move to New York City and give it a shot. “And so I moved to New York,” she says, “I got on the scene, and you’ll find in the book a lot of my stories of starting out as a fledgling artist with no guidance, no roadmap, which is really what this book is intended to be – the roadmap that I needed at 22.”

Father Dave says, “Maybe some of our listeners are thinking, ‘Sounds like a book for artists – I know some artistic people, but that’s not me.” Clare responds, “You’re a craftsman made in the image of the creator, and so if you are created in the image of God, you have those creative qualities and talents, and so it’s up to you to find it. You don’t need to be fantastic at painting or writing. It’s much larger than that.”

Father Dave points out that often in society, artists are not looked upon the same way as a doctor or lawyer, and we often get messages that suggest having a backup career or only pursuing art as a hobby. “How do you address those that have felt discouraged from using their gifts?” Father Dave asks. 

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Clare responds, “I think that that’s going to be a paradigm shift that we’re going to see, especially as Catholics start to mourn a culture that maybe used to serve us in our beliefs, but doesn’t anymore. And we can see that we really need to be making active changes in the culture. And those shifts in culture that we want to see are going to come from arts, and so it’s very important that we’re basically missionaries to truth, beauty and goodness.”

Father Dave asks if every Catholic who is an artist needs to produce exclusively Catholic or ‘Gospel-ly’ looking or sounding art. “No,” Clare says, “I would actually say that in the current climate, it’s probably more powerful and effective to create allegories and to dabble in storytelling.  What I tell everybody is if you are regularly receiving the sacraments, it will be infused in your work.”