* an ongoing series of quotations – mostly from artists to artists – that offers wisdom, inspiration, and advice for the sometimes lonely road we are on.
You do not need anyone’s permission to live a creative life.
Maybe you didn’t receive this kind of message when you were growing up. Maybe your parents were terrified of risk in any form. Maybe your parents were obsessive-compulsive rule-followers, or maybe they were too busy being melancholic depressives, or addicts, or abusers to ever use their imaginations towards creativity. Maybe they were afraid of what the neighbors would say. Maybe your parents weren’t makers in the least. Maybe they were pure consumers. Maybe you grew up in an environment where people just sat around watching tv and waiting for stuff to happen to them.
Forget about it. It doesn’t matter.
Look a little further back in your family’s history. Look at your grandparents: Odds are pretty good they were makers. No? Not yet? Keep looking back, then. Go back further still. Look at your great-grandparents. Look at your ancestors. Look at the ones who were immigrants, or slaves, or soldiers, or farmers, or sailors, or the original people who watched the ships arrive with the strangers onboard. Go back far enough and you will find people who were not consumers. People who were not passively waiting for stuff to happen to them. You will find people who spent their lives making things.
This is where you come from.
This is where we all come from.
Elizabeth Gilbert in Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear
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* an ongoing series of quotations – mostly from artists, to artists – that offers wisdom, inspiration, and advice for the sometimes lonely road we are on.
As the art historian Jack Flam has noted: ‘Art constantly reinvents itself. As time passes, new audiences find new ideas and inspiration in it and keep reframing its meanings and significance in fresh ways. Art also encourages new mental attitudes and ways of looking as it travels across space; some of these attitudes and beliefs might have been inconceivable to the people who created it, but the art nonetheless manages to speak persuasively and to create fresh images in other collective imaginations.’
Quoted in Man Ray, African Art, and the Modernist Lens by Wendy A. Grossman
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A: I always did so with my “Domestic Threats” paintings, but not with my current work. As I set up a group of figures to photograph, I would make up a story about what was happening between them: what the Day of the Dead skeleton I bought in Mexico City was saying to the frog/fish/human mask from Guerrero, for example. I was a big kid playing with my favorite toys! The stories were the spark to get me started on a new project, but I usually forgot about them afterwards. They were necessary, yet incidental to my creative process, which is probably why I have never written them down.
Years ago I had the experience of being at one of my solo shows when a group of elementary school children came along with their teacher. The teacher asked them to act out one of the stories in a particular painting. Ever curious about how people relate to my work, I didn’t introduce myself as the creator of the pieces hanging on the walls. I no longer remember the details, but their interpretations soon had me laughing. It is a constant surprise to hear from people encountering my work for the first time what they see in it, especially when those people are young kids with wild imaginations!
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