Saturday, July 14, 2012

Creativity Doesn't Happen In A Void

A few days ago, I read my newly arrived July/August issue of Native Peoples magazine. A particular article, Obsessions, made me contemplate and recognize some truths to my creativity. 

The author, Sandi Ault, is the author of four novels and has won numerous writing awards, so we know she is doing something right. Let me insert a disclaimer here: I have not read her books. I usually steer clear of any fiction with a western theme or Native Americans in it because they are almost all rife with stereotypes, usually written by non-Natives, and honestly they make me feel really weird and misunderstood. But again, I have not read her books.

That being said, Ault's article for Native Peoples, Obsessions, was particularly valuable to me as an artist/photographer/writer (in my 'free' time, aside from my paying job). The tag line for the article was, "Some prominent Native artists reveal their secret sidelines and ponder how their hobbies impact their art".  Ault interviewed nine Native artists and explains that aside from their art, " . . . they just might tell you about another part of their lives - their private passions where they seek balance in order to refill the creative well, passions that often become obsessions in their own right."

Shane Hendren, metalsmith, spoke about his horses and how they help him achieve emotional equilibrium in order to work his art.

Lisa Chavez-Thomas, pyro-engraver and woodworker, spoke of how both golfing and her art get her into that flow we all recognize, and how art ideas come to her while golfing.

Jessa Rae Growing Thunder, bead and quillworker, has a similar flow of ideas and understandings for her bead and quillwork while dancing in many powwows yearly. 

Kenneth Johnson, jeweler, Cody Sanderson, metalsmith/jeweler and Adrian Wall, sculptor, all use running as a counter point to their art. Running allows for the discipline, introspection and balance that fuels their creativity.

Jeweler Vernon Haskie finds ranching keeps him grounded and connected, which in turn, gives him the faith, spirituality and self-esteem that lets  him branch out in his art.

Potter Susan Folwell spoke of her love of gardening and how it clears her mind and is a place she can completely lose herself.

Estella Loretto, sculptor, has a passion for travel that inspires her art.   

Ault's conclusion for our take away: "Artists' other obsessions keep their lives in balance and their creative spark alive. Because creativity doesn't spring up in a void: It's an expression of the fullness of the artist's life."

Creativity doesn't spring up in a void. That phrase echoed in my head and reverberated in my heart. I have been struggling and pushing almost non-stop to get so many things crossed off my art 'to do' list (make this, make that, post here, tweet that, blog this, etc.), that I have felt trapped and stressed by my art instead of the inspired joy I know it can bring. 

I thank Ms. Ault for her eye-opening article, I thank Native Peoples for running it, and I thank each of the artists that shared their story. It has helped me understand that even in light of what I perceive as a time limitation for working my art after working my other full time job, I will make no true progress and frustrate myself in the process if I do not leave room for my 'other obsessions'.  I am missing the fullness. Cue the rest of my life.

Sun Bud by Kara Stewart, Art in Photography

And the bud opens.


  1. So true! Creativity is definitely a product of a fertile environment! Lovely post, and as always, lovely photography!