Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Some thoughts on Inspiration and Creativity

I spent some time at Oasis today, it’s a local co-op gallery and I’m the Exhibit Chair. For the next two months we’ll be featuring a changing display of wearable art. And so I was there creating displays today. First order of business was removing the artwork in the gallery that belongs to artists who were only with us for the holidays.
Then I uncovered the area where our featured artist display goes and found room for the work of the four artists whose work had been there. (The photo shows the display that I dismantled, that's my glass in the photo.)  It’s a puzzle to create the displays in a gallery, many of those pieces could go in any number of locations. How to make them feel organized and yet organic to the clientele? That’s the challenge and the fun of it.

I moved lots of stock and gallery furniture, and then it was time to take a look at the exhibit area and begin the new display. I’ll tell ya, I was flummoxed. I had no sense of inspiration whatsoever, as Stuart, my sidekick-for-the-day can attest. I looked through the stock to find something that spoke to me. Most of the work was in colors that are very different from the ones I gravitate toward. But that’s just me, certainly our clientele reflects a wide range of taste and sensibility.

Finally, completely devoid of any feeling of inspiration, I put a scarf and matching purse on the wall. Then I added a few other things. Then the creative juices started to flow. And as I kept adding things, I’d step back and take a look at it, make adjustments and edit. I had all kinds of wearable artwork to chose from, hats, scarves, purses, wraps, shoes, all handmade, all one of a kind. Plus a range of styles, prices and colors. It took a while, but I kept adding items to the display. Each addition would suggest something else and on and on I went until most of the space was full. The original scarf/purse combination didn’t even stay in the display, but it had been enough to get the juices flowing. Funny how that goes sometimes.

Sometimes I think that artists wait on inspiration to get started. What most people mean when they use the word “inspiration” is some sort of emotional altered state. Perhaps a high moment or a lovely bit of angst will do. And as such “inspiration” may not be all that helpful to the process, it may actually cloud a person’s objectivity about their work. And those feelings of being inspired are a little like a cat (ahCHO0oo!! Pardon me!) illusive, unpredictable and maybe a little feisty. If one waits on inspiration, then doing the work of an artist becomes a bit like a freeway. There are on-ramps and off-ramps and a very defined area you can move in.  There are simply LOTS of places you can't get to on a freeway.  It's actually quite confining if you think about it.

Creativity is like a park. You can enter it from anywhere, anytime. And you can wander around in any direction and explore, either on the path or off. One can find things to look at, touch and smell. There are limitless possibilities. All you have to do is take the first step.  As you move those creative juices will begin to flow. You don't have to feel it for it to happen. Some things we take on faith.

Take another step into your creativity today.
-Carmen Rose

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