Why Create?

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Aster by Angel Russell

When I’m not creating for Sparrow Made Co. I write a music arts and literature blog. In this blog I often interview artists and one of my questions is, “what inspires you to create?” The answer is always different. It is a unique and flavored response for each individual. When creators are in their early teens, or even younger, this urge is fervent and deep-rooted. It’s just “a part” of us and you can’t ever take it away and it totally defines who we are as people. We creators tend to wear this on our sleeves as proud youth, and later in life. Yearbooks ask us, “where do you see yourself in five years?” My response was a musician. I wrote that money didn’t matter and that no matter what I was going to do that because it was in my blood and nothing could take that away. I feel like I was on a high horse then. The feelings were totally genuine and I meant every word of it, but it was a little dramatic. I had that air about me that was an all or nothing attitude, but it prevented me from taking critique and I so defined myself by this “artist/musician” persona that it almost took away from the act itself. Why did I create? Why did I have this overwhelming urge to make something? Why did it pain me when I hadn’t had the chance to do so because of other various activities? Why does it pain me still?

Josephine by Angel Russell
Josephine by Angel Russell

I don’t know if this is a valid question. Why create? It is one I often ask myself. I don’t know if it’s answerable. Is it something you’re born with? Is it something we learn to do because we are taught by our peers or imprinted upon by our elders? George Bernard Shaw said “Imagination is the beginning of creation. You imagine what you desire, you will what you imagine and at last you create what you will.” Do creators have overactive imaginations?  Charles Dickens said, “The whole difference between construction and creation is exactly this: that a thing constructed can only be loved after it is constructed; but a thing created is loved before it exists.” Where does that will and love come from? Is it selfish to create? If the answer from every artist is different and individual for them, then what is it that unites us as creators? Surely, the act it self unites artists. There again though, why create?

Forest IV by Angel Russell
Forest IV by Angel Russell

Often I think that creating can be self-serving. My desire to hone my art to become the best I can at it has definitely caused problems for me in my life. It causes me to have a lack of income at times, which can be troublesome with family and partners. You can seem to be a burden or lazy even, if you don’t just get a real job. The problem with this train of thought is that for me, creating is a real job. Devoting myself to it fully is the only way I can see myself getting good enough at it to make it a worthwhile means of monitory support, which to me is also of secondary importance. I suppose I still am on that high horse because I refuse to give up on my dream. In that same vein why is my dream any less important because it does not have an immediate financial reward. Why is honing a craft looked down upon in this way? Going to school for seven years and spending exorbitant amounts of money on education is a valid way of life because there’s a magical money rainbow at the end of that journey. Is there even? Look at the people who spent all those years in school only to graduate and have no work. Why is money a factor in deciding our future. Why is it not what is inside of us, the gifts we were inherently born with, that is celebrated and sought after. I feel like my path is valid. I work at my craft as much as possible. I do have to work a “day job” so to speak at this time, to support that craft but it is my end goal to be able to be an artist in whatever shape that takes. Even that day job I chose is creative because I am a gardener. I apply my creative eye there splendidly. I, however, feel that the only way to truly “make it” in an artistic pursuit or career is to devote yourself to this mission wholeheartedly with fervent passion and dedication. All of our personal journeys should be pursued in this way. Perhaps we creators are on that high horse because we have to prove to others that this path is a valid one.

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Armor Cuff, to feel protected by Angel Russell

Art can heal. It can express emotions in a way that few things can. Artist Georges Braque said “Art is a wound turned into light.” Perhaps this urge to create comes from an over abundance of feeling. The first example that comes to mind for me is the mother of modern dance, Martha Graham and her dance Lamentation. With her entire body and being she creates a dance so moving that many are brought to tears. Martha Graham said “It’s the tragedy that obsesses the body and the garment that is worn is just a tube of material but it’s as though you were stretching in your own skin. One of the first times I did it was in Brooklyn. A lady came back to me afterwards and looked at me, she had a very white face, and she had obviously been crying. And she said “you will never know what you have done for me tonight, thank you” and left. I asked about her later. It seemed that she had seen her child, her nine-year old son, killed in front of her by a truck. They had made every effort to make her cry, and she was not able to cry, but when she saw Lamentation she said, she felt that grief was honorable. And that it was universal. And that she need not be ashamed of crying for her son. And that, I remember that part. That story is a very deep story in my life. It’s made me realize that there is always one person that you speak to in the audience, one.” If a dance can move us to tears, is creating not a vital part of not only expelling our internal pain, but helping others to do the same. Is this not a valid pursuit? If we languish in our misery but find a path out through creation and that creation can help others to find a light of their own, is this not a valid pursuit?

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Copper Feather Earrings for strength. Angel Russell

Art is not solely the result of suffering, but as humans we are able to create art, dance, poetry, topiary, jewelry, etc that evokes mood, feeling, eases pain, brings joy, power, overtakes resentment or loss, or just plain makes us feel good. I think that through that experience, that commonality and ability to connect on a deep level with a stranger, just one, that is why I create. Creating eases a place in me, whether that place is loneliness, pain, happiness, anger, presence, inspiration, imagination, or the unexplainable. I hope that through my creations others feel a kinship, a similar easing and through that we are able to join in healing that place in all of us. Marianne Williamson said “The only work that will ultimately bring any good to any of us is the work of contributing to the healing of the world.” That’s as noble a pursuit as any if you ask me.

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Martha Graham’s Lamentation:

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