I have been working at Camp all of this week. It has been exhausting but incredibly fun working with and getting to know the kids. They are endlessly energetic and so much fun. But working in Camp has got me thinking about the nature of creativity.
There are people who believe that creativity must swirl around in an endless loop of chaos to exist, I am definitely NOT one of those people. For me, in order to get to a place where I can be creative, everything else in my environment has to be in order. I can’t be worrying about the dishes that need to be done or work around endless piles of fabric, notions, paper, books, and bills. Everything has to be in it’s place for my mind to be able to be free to run to its fullest extent. Now, I understand and agree that not everyone can function in the same way as I do, but in general, for “ART” to happen, doesn’t there need to be some degree of precision, carefulness, and attention to detail. I believe yes, we need to teach creativity and we need to encourage children to continue to use their imagination (lest it dry out ;)), but to me, teaching the whirling dervish of chaos surrounding the “creativity” should NOT be a part of that teaching.
Also… there has been a huge debate of art vs. craft waging in my head for the past few weeks. Can something that comes from a pattern be considered “art” or is it merely craft. And is “merely” craft a fair statement at all? Mustn’t any art exist from an artist spending years honing one’s craft? Or are the only true “artists” the ones who are innately gifted with the ability to create their work without the necessity for iteration?
Personally, I do not believe that. A true artist is anyone who creates carefully to the best of their current ability, be it their idea, from a pattern, whether it came naturally or required much study, practice, and iteration. To believe otherwise is like saying that Beethoven who painstakingly labored over every solitary note is somehow less of a composer than Mozart whose manuscripts were flawlessly executed on the first pass. Or Monet, who did study after study of the same hay stack in different season and light is not creative. I just don’t buy it. When in the end, you come up with something that exists in this world and has some esthetic value (evoking not even necessarily beauty, but any emotion, thought, or response) that did not exist previously you are creating art. Craft? Sure, maybe, but not “less than” anything else. In the end, even the “craftiest” of craft is still creating something that did not exist before, and that will evoke some thought or memory in the creator and ultimately the observer. And yes, the process is important, but to me, it is utterly ridiculous to believe that the process is MORE important than the end result. That is not to say that every end result will be equally as important. But I feel like to teach children that the process is more important than the end result is careless. Of COURSE the end result is important, that’s WHY you go through the process. Careful attention must be paid, and one must do one’s best work or the “PROCESS” is for naught. THIS is what I believe we should be teaching children about art, creativity, and creation.
I understand fully that not everyone shares my same views on this topic. That reality has become acutely clearer to me in the past two months or so. Being exposed to other opinions on this topic, I am thankful for, it has made me think out my position more clearly, do research on the nature of creativity, and ultimately made me a better artist.
Every experience is a learning one and I think I have learned this one well enough! 😉