An Artist's Response to St. Pope John Paul II's Letter to Artists

The Call to Artists

St. John Paul II addresses the artist as, the image of God the Creator. In a letter that he wrote to artists at the cusp of the 3rd millennium, he enlightens us with an incredible notion.


The notion that as artists in the true sense of the vocation, we are able to somewhat experience a tiny bit of the Divine Spark that the Lord expressed in the beginning with Creation itself.


“None can sense more deeply than you artists, ingenious creators of beauty that you are, something of the pathos with which God at the dawn of creation looked upon the work of his hands. A glimmer of that feeling has shone so often in your eyes when—like the artists of every age—captivated by the hidden power of sounds and words, colours and shapes, you have admired the work of your inspiration, sensing in it some echo of the mystery of creation with which God, the sole creator of all things, has wished in some way to associate you.” ( LETTER OF HIS HOLINESS POPE JOHN PAUL II TO ARTISTS, 1999)

So, through the act of creating and forming something to behold, the artist has the opportunity to find communion with God.


"With loving regard, the divine Artist [God] passes on to the human artist a spark of his own surpassing wisdom, calling him to share in his creative power." ( LETTER OF HIS HOLINESS POPE JOHN PAUL II TO ARTISTS, 1999)

All the more and even more so if the artist intentionally sets his or her God-given talents as a means of sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the truth of the Holy Spirit.


In this next excerpt from Saint John Paul II's letter to artists, he gives us a key to understanding ourselves.


"That is why artists, the more conscious they are of their “gift”, are led all the more to see themselves and the whole of creation with eyes able to contemplate and give thanks, and to raise to God a hymn of praise. This is the only way for them to come to a full understanding of themselves, their vocation and their mission." ( LETTER OF HIS HOLINESS POPE JOHN PAUL II TO ARTISTS, 1999)

And he goes on to a specific call for music artists. St. Pope John Paul II expresses wholeheartedly how important music artists are.


"The Church also needs musicians. How many sacred works have been composed through the centuries by people deeply imbued with the sense of the mystery! The faith of countless believers has been nourished by melodies flowing from the hearts of other believers, either introduced into the liturgy or used as an aid to dignified worship. In song, faith is experienced as vibrant joy, love, and confident expectation of the saving intervention of God." ( LETTER OF HIS HOLINESS POPE JOHN PAUL II TO ARTISTS, 1999)

The zeal he has is inspiring! And his hope for artists of the 3rd millennium is truly moving.


"On the threshold of the Third Millennium, my hope for all of you who are artists is that you will have an especially intense experience of creative inspiration. May the beauty which you pass on to generations still to come be such that it will stir them to wonder! Faced with the sacredness of life and of the human person, and before the marvels of the universe, wonder is the only appropriate attitude." ( LETTER OF HIS HOLINESS POPE JOHN PAUL II TO ARTISTS, 1999)

The Response

As a music artist in this 3rd millennium, Erik Jackson was moved indeed by St. John Paul’s letter to artists. Erik was inspired to respond by producing a very intentional work of art with the purpose of sharing the Gospel, specifically the events of the Annunciation and the Visitation found in the first two chapters of the Gospel of Luke.


Since the release date for this EP was May 31, on the same day of the Feast of the Visitation in the Catholic tradition, we invite you to take a listen to the Visitation track and imagine the events surrounding the mystery of the Visitation. Below are the time markers in which Erik composed the music to create an audio painting of the concepts and individual moments that take place in and around the Visitation.



Visitation

Zechariah and Elizabeth 0:0 - 0:38

The announcement of John 0:38 - 0:57

Sprit and Power of Elijah 0:57 - 1:26

Zechariah speechless 1:26 - 1:36

Mary heads to Elizabeth 1:36 - 2:05

Mary's greeting 2:05 - 2:15

John leaps with The Holy Spirit 2:15 - 2:25

Elizabeth cries out 2:25 - 2:38

Mary's Canticle (Song of Praise) 2:38 - 3:50

The Birth Of John 3:50 - End




Canvas, a new visual feature for Spotify Artists


From the music was born visual art.

Specifically in the form of an 8-second video that serves as a visual compliment on the music streaming platform, Spotify. Canvas is a new feature for Spotify music artists that allows them to associate an 8-second video with each song they release.


Canvas is a new feature for Spotify music artists that allows them to associate an 8-second video with each song they release.

The 8-second “loop” is displayed on a user's phone screen as the song plays. The example to the left is a still screenshot from the Spotify player on the iPhone.


A "loop" is a video piece that repeats endlessly or for a fixed amount of time.

You may be asking yourself what is the point of an 8 second video? There is a lot one can do with 8 seconds of video! I remember the days of the Vine 6 second video platform in which entire story arcs were produced in 6 seconds! Definitely not an easy task but totally possible.


There are all kinds of approaches for Spotify Canvas videos, and one can even use a simple still image as their Canvas for their song on Spotify.


For our approach to the Spotify Canvas for the song "Visitation", we did a combination of a still image and video. Instead of an entire storyline, we decided to make a single representative image with subtle animation as a backdrop to the music. The best way to show you the result of the 8-second video loop as a backdrop to the song is through simulating the experience on YouTube. The only way as of now to experience the actual Spotify Canvas video & music feature is to use the Spotify music streaming app on a mobile phone device. As of now, the Canvas feature is not supported by desktop screens or ipads eg.



In this Spotify Canvas video, Mary the Virgin Mother of Jesus Christ is in a "hero shot". The Gospel tells us that Mary was determined to travel in haste through the mountain terrain of Judea referred to as the hill country to help her cousin Elizabeth who was in her 6th month of pregnancy. At this moment Mary, was also pregnant herself. The same angel that announces to Mary that she will be the Mother of God and that she will conceive the son of God by the Holy Spirit remaining a virgin, also tells her of the miraculous pregnancy of her barren cousin Elizabeth who is advanced in age.


Mary in her character of availability and service, goes in haste to help care for and assist her cousin who will be giving birth soon to her son John the Baptist.


A journey and visitation that will mark history forever

In this visual art piece created for Spotify Canvas, we have Mary with a hopeful, serene, and determined look as she starts her sunrise journey to visit her cousin Elizabeth. A journey and visitation that will mark history forever. This event is recorded in the Gospel of Luke Ch. 1: 39 – Ch 2.

The specs for the Canvas video art are as follows:

  • Canvas Ratio: 9:16 Height: At least 720px.

  • Canvas Length: 3 secs – 8 secs File.

  • Canvas Format: MP4 or JPG only.

  • Note that on some taller devices the left and right edges of your Canvas will be cropped – keep these clear of key content.

The pixel aspect ratio we used to set up the art and video file was: 1080 x 1920px


It’s not exact to the Canvas size, but will work fine and is more versatile for use across social media "stories" and "posts"


Instagram: @erik_jackson_music


Annunciation / Visitation is available now on all music streaming platforms. Click the album art below to play on the streaming music platforms of your choice.



"Works of art speak of their authors; they enable us to know their inner life, and they reveal the original contribution which artists offer to the history of culture." ( LETTER OF HIS HOLINESS POPE JOHN PAUL II TO ARTISTS, 1999)


Credits:

Blog Post Author: Milena Jackson

Music: Erik Jackson

Canvas Album Art: Milena Jackson

EP Cover Art: Milena Jackson

Reference: Letter of His Holiness Pope John Paul II to Artists, 1999