Friday, October 21, 2011

Living a Creative Life

    (Part two is here)

I hope you enjoyed this video.  So, what do you think?  Why does man create?  
What is creativity?  How do we express that?  
I remember my mother talking about this video as she often showed it to to her 9th grade Honors or Creative Writing classes.  My mom was a Junior High English Teacher and the way she taught her classes was her way to express her creativity.  She often told me that she was not creative, primarily because she did not practice making art with paint, fiber, fabric etc.  However, she spent hours creating lesson plans that would teach, inspire and captivate her students, which they did.   This is a display of creativity.  I remember her coming into my room and asking to borrow my 45 record of In the Year 2525.  I have no idea how that worked into whatever lesson she was teaching.  I was a teenager myself and wasn't tuned in to what my mother was doing.   Years later when she no longer taught, but was a children's bookseller, former students would bring their own children in the store to purchase books or listen to the storytime the store provided.  They let her know how remembered & loved she was as their teacher.
One of her other talents (again language based) was to her ability to take a well-known song and change the lyrics to suit whatever holiday or occasion was at hand.  From faculty meetings or parties to camp songs, she was able to celebrate with song, her friends singing along!
As these two examples show, my mother was a used language to express her creativity.  She was a writer.  Her lengthy letters to old friends read like the hysterical well-honed routine of the finest comedian.  Her letters to her loved ones spoke from her heart in words and phrases that spoke of her deep feelings, thus expertly conveying how she felt to the lucky recipient.

 Many years ago, Mother's Day... I invited my mom over for a play date.  It was when I was fiddling around with multi-media experiments, around the time I made the faucet painting.  I thought it would be fun to make art together.  My theory was that she said she wasn't 'creative' because she had never freely explored these kind of materials.  I wanted to offer her a chance to try.  I had the studio ready.  I offered her a chair and my dad's old denim shirt to wear to protect her clothes.  Then...together...we finger painted!  She tentatively put a finger or two.  Soon she had all of her fingertips moving together in a circular dance.  I watched as the tension left her shoulders.  I watched as she settled in to her own rhythm.  My offer to allow our paints, fingers, techniques to co-mingle on the canvas was quietly declined.  So, we finished our painting, each using about half of the canvas.  Watching her try something out of her comfort zone, trying to find comfortable ways to invitation - not insisting.  In the end my mom admitted that she enjoyed herself, but that it was not her cup of tea.  We each made a set of hand prints on some vellum paper and called it a day.  This was a creative experience I will never forget.
My turn:  My own creative expression has come in spurts and stops over my lifetime.  As a child I was lucky enough to take an 'art class' in the home of a local woman.  I no longer remember her name or much of what we did.  I remember the magical entrance to the yard under a vine cover archway...into the front entrance of the house where there was a huge wall of shelves, drawers, nooks stocked with bits of this and that.  We were free to use anything we liked.  There was not much instruction as I recall, just total freedom.  I made a lot of turned wooden knob people with fake fur hair and yarn wrapped around them for clothing.  I was lucky indeed to have such an open-ended experience.  Then came the pottery classes, both privately and in junior high school.  Also in junior high was the semester of multi-media art experiences.  Most of my learning in the fiber arts has been through limited instruction and a lot of self-exploration.  I've enjoyed the freedom of expression that affords, but at times I've been frustrated by the stumbling over technique.  This has also been true of my explorations in creative writing and photography.  I just ramble along doing my thing.
Sometimes I do wish for more instruction, but then I don't want to be told what to create.  This is one small part of why Jude's teaching style works for me.  But, like I said, I just ramble along doing my thing!  Now, that thing includes writing posts for my blog!  I have come to see all of my technical interactions as another creative expression.  In years past, I may have displayed a low tolerance for figuring out the workings of technology, and there is still a little of that, but now my creative problem-solving skills outshine those feelings.  My avenues to creative expression.
This leads me to my latest feather...
Creativity Meets Technology
With all of these thoughts about creativity and what that looks like, this feather is to honor Steve Jobs and his creative advancement in the technological world.  Without my trusty MacBook (laptop) I would not have been able to enjoy so many connections and creative experiences over the last few years!  I certainly would not be making feathers for Jude! 
So, in celebration of creative expression...whatever it looks is the Apple Feather!

Using fabric crayons, I made a rubbing of the Mac Apple on my MacBook.
I made my apple feather free-hand.

UPDATE: You may be interested in reading the beautiful eulogy given by Steve Jobs sister.  It is as amazing as he was.
You can read it here.  For some reason I was particularly touched when she says: 
"Yet, what amazed me, and what I learned from his illness, was how much was still left after so much had been taken away."
"We all — in the end — die in medias res. In the middle of a story. Of many stories." 

This article made me wish to have personally known Steve Jobs.  What a man.

This article made me, of course, think of my mother.  Because even 3 years later, her passing is raw and painful...and I reflect on the 'shoulds' of a grieving process and try to relax my expectations as to when this becomes easier.  It is a loss, a very big loss...plain and simple.

This article was found in AKR's Thursday Thingy post.
I love the version of the Apple there.
 Photos by NAE @pomegranatetrail ©2011


Ms. ∆×∆p×≥h/4π said...

Because It's been an all nighter, I cannot write all that is in my heart and head about this-oh so wonderful- post. i loved the references (year 2525) and the view into your life with one of the best moms ever, and that finger painting itself, the main feature-the surprisingly not so 'dated' video on Creativity! Just a slight revision - Man creates because women created them to be creative, and mother earth created both of them, and the universe created mother earth and so on and so forth - but no sense worrying about the gender of the Universe - unless, one wants to hear the resounding eruption of universal laughter :-) I have to take a nap for a few hours so I can return to the planet with energy to face the rest of this creative day with some good ol' reliable creative play.

Ms. ∆×∆p×≥h/4π said...

I'm back because I forgot to say that your fabulous feather and it's apple on their pink smudged cloth are whimsical and delicious!

Hey did you catch Aretha at doing "he's got The whole world in his hands? At the peace encampment years ago (that's another story for another time) I heard a woman doing it as "She's Got the Whole World In Her Hands" and it was glorious, with hundreds of women joining in. That's how it is when women create--they have the whole world in their hands.

Anonymous said...

loved hearing about your mom. we have a similar past, though i was a children's book buyer/seller first, then a teacher. & one of my gifts is writing silly lyrics to favorite songs for the plays i put together for the kids. what a gift to have had that art time with her. there is creativity all over my family, but we rarely share it.
and whole heartedly agree & love your apple!

Nancy said...

Michelle- Sometimes I weigh back and forth in my head about the very personal details I post...but it is who I am and I ma glad to hear it touched you in some way.
Thanks for the link. I wish I did not have such trouble getting all of your stuff.
When I worked with under two year olds, I sang it - hands cupped together as if holding the world or whatever- "We've got the whole...". Once after singing that we had the mommies and daddies... sisters and brothers I asked the children, "What else do we hold in our hands? What else do we need to take care of?" Without skipping a beat this little girl (about 22 months old) named two different animals (sorry that I no longer remember which ones). I was so impressed that she got where I was going with the song adaptation! It was an awesome moment :)

Nancy said...

I too got the song writing gene!!! And I love it :)
Yes it was such an experience to share that art moment with her. I'm so glad I did.
Thanks for the apple love :)

grace Forrest~Maestas said...

such a loving little cloth of
feather and apple
and thank you, for this love letter
about your mom

Nancy said...

You are welcome Grace.
Every letter is a love letter in regards to my mom! Man, I miss her :)