Tuesday, May 11, 2010


Someone asked to talk to me about creativity. It is a word that isn't used much around art schools. Probably in the same way fish don't discuss water. We all pretty much recognize it when we see it. "Now that's creative," we say.

Terms like "thinking outside of the box" and "paradigm shift" indicate creativity. We break from convention and find unique ways to do things.

Often, it seems like the creative solution is the most obvious one. Sometimes the creative solution is right in front of us, waiting for us to notice her. Buddha was asked how did he know what he had "discovered." He simply touched his hand to the ground, saying that the earth had told him. He listened to what was in front of him. Creative? I think so.

I'm not really interested in someone looking at my art and commenting, "that's so creative!" In the same way, when I made photographic prints, someone commented, "what beautiful prints." What I want people to see is my heart/mind sharing/magnifying/organizing some part of the world. It is necessary to sometimes do this in a creative way, though we try to do this without pre-meditation. It should at least seem as if this was the most natural way to perform. As with ee cummings, we feel that he's writing heartfelt thoughts in the most direct way he can. We like him because he is so direct. Maybe creativity is sometimes not being (or at least appearing) creative.

Or maybe you'll disagree.


Anonymous said...

Poetically stated or in other words, Creatively spoken! H.

Kate Freeman said...

“I don’t so much think I am a forward-thinking person.”

“I think you are. You are very creative. I think a person has to be forward-thinking to be creative.”

“I don’t.”

“Why? You think your creativity comes from a muse who just arrives now and again and works through you body when she wants to?”

“Sometimes I think so.”

“Yeah. I think so too. But some of that creativity is not the muse. Some of it is you. I’ve seen you sit down and plan out a project. That’s forward thinking, not the muse.”

“How do you know it’s not the muse that is forcing me to do the planning?”

“Because the muse has better things to do than sit for a couple of hours doing research on the internet. The muse arrives and things happen immediately and you just let it happen. The muse doesn’t usually inhabit your body for extended periods of time. She comes and goes. She might pop the idea in your head, but you have to do all the work and research. So all that part is you and is part of a forward thinker.”

“The muse is female?”

“Well of course!”

“So you think your creativity comes from both the muse and from yourself?”

“Sure. I know when the muse arrives. I’m happy when she does. I try to take advantage and allow her to do her thing. But what am I supposed to be doing in the mean time. If I sit around waiting for her to return, I’ll get seriously bored and not get a thing done. So I have to entertain myself until she decides to come back. That’s all my creativity.”

“So if I pick one of your projects, could you tell me if it was the muse or you that was the creative force behind it?”

“It doesn’t work like that. We collaborate most of the time.”

“I see. So that shitty fish sculpture you attempted to make that is still sitting in the basement. . . Was that mostly you or mostly the muse?”

“That mess is the muse’s fault of course. If she would have shown up and helped me during the assembly process, things might have gone better.”

“So you don’t think it turned out crappy because you didn’t do enough research before you tried to put the thing together.”

“No. It’s not my fault. It is hers.”

“Don’t you think blaming the muse might actually keep her from returning any time soon?”

“Oh right. Like she can control where she lands. Sometimes your head is just filled with all these funny ideas. I don’t know where you get them from.”

Kim Mosley said...

Beautiful Kate. And what happens when "I" disappears? Who is then doing the art?

BTW, if you (or anyone) has anything on Zen Poetics for Just This, the Austin Zen Center's literary blog (azcjustthis.blogspot.com), including zen poetry, please send it by 5/23/2010 to: AZCJustThis@googlegroups.com


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