Years ago I discovered a world where art intersects with words. Two of my passions gave birth to a third passion, calligraphy. I call my version of calligraphy letter art, where there are no rules or limits to what can be created. I might feel like doing a water colour wash then add letters and words in one or more media applied with any sort of tool, from brush, nib, stick, card or finger. Or I might start by drawing letters in rubber then wash over the top, peeling off the rubber to reveal a message.
Once, when I was at a party I became animated about how much I enjoy this. The next moment is etched in my memory. Some woman piped up “Next you’ll be doing cake decorating.” Initially I was shocked that she would mock me by comparing art with cake decorating, then I realised how judgemental I was being. I began to think about how creativity finds an outlet whatever, and that judging and comparing creativite outlets in an attempt to diminish one or both, is to demean the human urge to express ourselves, to interpret the world, to discover beauty, or do whatever.
I often return to that thought, that is, the legitimacy of the human urge to be creative, and that creativity has no boundaries. Whether writing poetry or prose, the writer has a message and uses literary devices to create something special. The artist can blend media, surface, technique and so on. Singing, playing a musical instrument, photography, sculpture are also conventionally regarded as being creative, so why not cake decorating, meal presentation, calligraphy, scrapbooking, dancing, dress design, furniture design, and so on. (incidentally, some of these latterly mentioned creative outlets are regarded as “feminine”, so perhaps there is some gender bias at work here.)
Creativity and imagination are related. Albert Einstein said “Imagination is more important than knowledge”. This inspires me to believe that human endeavour is at its finest when we apply creativity – to look for opportunities, to solve problems, to seek wisdom and understanding. It is through art, literature, music, any creative work or thinking that our spirits soar.
So what is creativity? I’m not sure it can be defined or measured. What is art?. Where painting intersects with calligraphy, is it no longer art? Clearly that isn’t so, otherwise Colin Mc Cahon wouldn’t be regarded as one of New Zealand’s great artists. Does someone’s willingness to pay for artistic endeavour define a work as art? If someone will pay for a cake to be decorated does that mean that cake decorating is art? I believe it can be, and that it can certainly be an example of creativity.
Is literature only the work of great writers? If only the greatest writers were published, my reading world would be impoverished. I love reading “coming of age” novels (I have realized in the last few years that I have yet to come of age – will I ever grow up?). Barbara Kingsolver is perhaps best known for writing “The Poisonwood Bible” yet it’s “The Bean Trees” and “Pigs In Heaven” that I enjoyed the most. And I’d be a lesser person if I hadn’t read Billie Letz’ “The Honk and Holler Opening Soon”, “Where The Heart Is” and “Made In The USA”. And I find plenty to chew over in Marion Keyes novels.
And good things happen when creativity intersects with technology. I’ve discovered plenty of great writing on blogs. One of the best things I’ve learnt about blogging is that because it provides a great medium for writers it’s become a treasure trove for readers, and a fantastic forum for ideas. It’s a wonderful spark for creativity. It’s a great place to find poetry:
Julia Fehrenbacher of Painted Path writes wonderful poetry and prose.
This via kind over matter
When she slows
instead of pushing
When she asks and listens
instead of talking and telling
When she bows
to this light-filled
instead of running
It bows deeply back
and she feels herself
the wide open
People have always found ways to express themselves creatively, to feel their spirits soar and their hearts sing. Creativity is an essential part of who we are. It can’t be measured and it shouldn’t be compared or minimised, but rather celebrated and embraced, wherever it is found.