Photo Credit: Michal Zacharzewski
Are my bountiful resources actually confusing and limiting my creative process?

I keep thinking back to artists who inspire me and even inspire a bit of jealousy. What is it about them that stokes my passion and interest in the arts? Without fail innovative use of material impresses me. I think of Jennifer Stark, El Anatsui, or Ran Hwang and I am impressed by their ability to make work that is relatable but also powerful because of their material use. In fact, the particular medium each uses appears to reinforce and celebrate meaning in the works. In the case of Jennifer Stark, a lack of money and limited resources drove her to her style and medium of choice, paper. I am in the midst of moving and many of my materials are packed up. Yet I wanted to make art. So, what could I do? I was driving home from errands when it hit me to use the limited materials available to me. What can I do with it? While I did not drive myself to the most minimalist of materials, I did start to play with collage using an old word find I had just finished. And I’m playing and problem solving and idea generating while doing this. I can see it in several incarnations but this is just play and experimentation is how artists solve their problems.

Sometimes I get so caught up in idea formation that I forget the enjoyment and discovery that can come from experimentation. And I believe creating limitations on myself helps direct and better my creative process. In my first few years of teaching I was always surprised at how the quality of student work dropped dramatically (in both idea development and evidence of skill) when I allowed students the freedom to develop their own project. Without guidance on how to create limitations for themselves and a better understanding of process, student work was actually stifled by the freedom I offered them. I’m going to start by using a sketchbook again. I need to create a place for ideas and play…Perhaps its time to practice what I preach?!

Artist Strong Action: Rustle through your resources and randomly select 5 items. Try to create only using these 5 things. How does the limitation enhance your creative thinking? What is challenging about this task?