I spent fifteen years as an art teacher, instructing children, youth and adults how to express themselves using clay, a computer, paper, Craypas, glitter, yarn and more. From pottery to origami, basketweaving to papermaking, the task of learning how to use and teach it all, in an accessible way, often felt daunting. I found adopting the childlike spirit that embodied my youngest students, who did not overthink the undertaking but just began to play with materials, was the way to embrace the task and even find deep joy in the process. I learned that each medium guides the artist into expressing themselves in a new, often unexpected way. If you can give yourself permission, the creativity within will find a solution.
In all those years of teaching art, I can honestly say that I do not believe I could, or ever have, taught a soul how to be creative. I was only responsible for making a space, providing encouragement and catalysts for that particular kind of people-magic to emerge. M.C. Richards, potter and author of Centering, puts it this way:
“We have to realize that a creative being lives within ourselves, whether we like it or not, and that we must get out of its way, for it will give us no peace until we do.”
One of the rules of brainstorming is no evaluation during the process. Creative problem solving needs the inner critic to quiet, so that we can play with new possibilities. When we find ourselves stuck, perhaps repeating limitations we have absorbed as truth; creativity can be a bridge between hopelessness and hope. Let us remember to play, imagine we have already found a way through, let yourself conceptualize the impossible. The creative being inside you can make a space where innovation can happen. M.C. Richards also asserted that, “The imagination equips us to perceive reality when it is not fully materialized.” and “All the arts we practice are apprenticeships. The big art is our life.”
May creativity be your playful companion, a guide to unexpected new wells of hope in the artmaking that is each of our lives.
Rev. Kimberlee Tomczak Carlson
Minister of Religious Education