December 19, 2011
I don’t know where I picked it up, but I’ve never let it go. Every person is a created being and as a creature of Creation, we are naturally creative. Yet somewhere along the way to adulthood, many of us lose our belief that I am creative. Instead, we relegate our art off to the “artist.” I don’t know how many times I’ve heard teachers say everyone in kindergarten sings as if they are a singer and then, by the time these same children graduate high school, most every one of them do not believe themselves singers. Parents know the same truth. What parent has not experienced their child radically focused and engaged with paper and crayons creating a drawing. It is as if they reside in sacred space and nothing in the world matters other than expressing a deep gift welling up from a profound Godding space within. When they are done with their creation they run and hold up a piece of paper, smile, and say something like “Look! Look at what I made!” Yet many parents, knowing the reality of their creative child was once their own do not believe themselves a creative adult.
We need to encourage, reclaim, support, and advance creativity. We and our community are the better for a bit more singing, painting, guitar picking, dancing across the kitchen floor, clever humor, glass-blowing, and sculpture! My Future, an after-school program of the Yakama Christian Mission, believes art matters. As school ends each day, My Future begins. As students enter the Art (and Band) room art begins to bubble up and alongside, life. Soon, distinguishing between art and life becomes difficult as emotions, events, and spirit meld with paint, wood, and fire. And always…always…as life leaves the confines of body and moves artfully into the world, mystery fills the room. The experience for the observer is like, well, you remember the very first time you saw a rabbit pulled from a top hat or when you first seriously engaged with the idea of a virgin birth?, it’s like that—a feeling lying somewhere between wonderment and bewilderment.
We are creative artful people and each of us need, not want, but need to experience our creative center! Ten percent of your Christmas Offering supports the creative wellbeing of youth each afternoon at the Yakama Christian Mission.
(First e-published by the Northwest Regional Christian Church (Disciples of Christ))
© David B. Bell 2011
David, I agree with the main point that you make and applaud the Yakama Christian Mission for providing a good place for children to develop their wide range of creative powers. One of the functions of this period of life is to try out possibilities and gradually to focus on those that are closest to the center. For some, the sport may be basketball and for others soccer. For some, the instrument may be guitar and for others trumpet. As a runner, I’m miserable; as a cyclist, I am filled with delight. Best wishes as you continue your work. Keith
Yes. The power of art is its ability to allow folk to find where they best meet mystery. For some it occurs in the midst of plaster, others wood or duct tape or cloth, and I’m sure, areas we have yet to explore. Few youth have settled into every art project, but most have found one where they engage deeply and the next thing they know, our time together is over! Be well my cyclist friend!
I agree with the points you raised, David. It got me reflecting on what happened during my childhood days and I’m not exactly sure what transpired but I retained my passion for arts particularly painting, creative writing and photography during my adulthood. Unfortunately, I can only do photography and some writing nowadays but at least the drive to do something creative is still there. Thanks for sharing.
Creativity matters greatly in our world and your work is part of that. For instance, today I shared your last post “The Nomadic Herder of Mongolia” with youth in “My Future” (an art after-school program here on the Yakama reservation) and the photos told a story of cultural living they had not imagined. Awaking their imagination opened them to engage in a new medium of expression. Thanks for you thoughts and body of work!