Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Back in school, there was clear branding on a whole lot of things - studious / naughty being the most common. More so in the space of arts. There were clearly the "good" artists, performers, orators and writers. The rest of the class, definitely "not good", only meant to be the captive audience. Given large classes and the limited focus on anything other than academics, any event that came up created opportunities only for the good ones. Although i had my fair share of success in school, no one ever saw in me any artistic talent. Neither did i. Back then the definition of creativity around me was 'creativity = good at performing arts'. (yes i confess i have still not come around reading Edward de Bono's books!) And therefore "Me = not creative" was a stamp i left school with.
It was much after leaving school that i discovered the creative part of me quite by accident. A chance encounter with clay when i was in my late 20s. A pottery teacher visited the organization that i was then working with to give a demo class. If you liked it, you could then enrol for an 8 session course. The teacher walked around handing out lumps of earth to all those who turned up and asked each one to work with it. I, like most others, sat blank for a while. But clay can be very enticing and sure enough all of us started kneading, rolling, pinching and stretching it. And as each of us worked with our bit of earth, the teacher went around showing us how a simple mask could be made. Completely mindless of the time, the traffic outside or even the day's exhaustion, I made a couple of other masks, quite amazed that I could actually create.
Sure enough, i enrolled for the classes and went thru a huge clay modelling phase of my life. Made lots of gifts for friends. Ranging from tanagram figures to masks to photo frames. And not just satisfied with the form i gave, i rather hesitatingly tried out colours. Me, a non-artist, actually colouring? With a paintbrush?!! What i created then was quite amazing and almost a surreal experience for me:
But even more thrilling that what or how much i made, was the joy of discovering the creative part of me. A part of me that could visualise in images and colours and make something original.
This happened almost six years back in my life. Since then i have tried my hand at several other "creative" things. Innovative lesson plans for kids, designing visuals and posters to be used in our events, learning theatre and performing on stage, learning songs in Kannada (a language i neither speak or understand), co-designing personal development programs for adults, writing little songs for children, painting diyas to be given as gifts during Diwali, blogging,.......
More importantly, my definition of what creativity means stands redefined. I see myself now challenging the mainstream ways of judging work - be it my own or the work others do. The more i look around, the more i discover immense talent within me and all around me. Playing with clay, colours, words has made me feel less bound and more alive.
There's a Pablo Picasso quote i often remember when i work with children: "Every child is born an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up." What I have learnt from my own personal journey, even as it continues, is that you never stop being an artist. It's only a matter of seeing it.