Archives for August, 2010
Many people experience depression, including prominent artists. Some of them, like Sylvia Plath, Virginia Woolf, Robin Williams and so many others, have died by suicide. One of the myths of creativity is that you need to be depressed to be creatively vital and successful. You don't. But many creative people may be particularly susceptible to mood disorders. Musician Shawn Colvin talked on an episode of the Oprah show (Depressed, Mentally Ill and Famous, in 2004) about being depressed before she got pregnant, but experiencing even more challenges with postpartum depression. She said:
Healing from trauma or abuse can have physical, emotional, spiritual, maybe even cognitive dimensions. Creative expression can facilitate all those aspects. Visual artist and author SARK has talked about using creative work for personal growth and to deal with her experiences of sexual abuse. SARK (Susan Ariel Rainbow Kennedy) is the author and artist of fifteen books, including Succulent Wild Woman, Bodacious Book of Succulence and others. An acclaimed speaker and teacher, she is CEO and founder of Planet SARK, a business that promotes empowered living, and her writings and artwork. In an interview, SARK said she knows art is healing “because of how it heals me and how I see it healing other people every day. Through art, we come alive through the deep connections to our souls and spirits.
Kristin Bauer portrays the deliciously imperious vampire Pam on the HBO series "True Blood." But in addition to acting, she has been drawing since around age twelve. Examples of her beautiful and accomplished representational still life, landscape and portrait paintings are displayed on her site www.kristinbauer.com and were also presented in a gallery show in San Marino, CA last year. She notes on her site, "I have kept it up out of pleasure and also a needed sanctuary from the harder parts of life." Creative expression as a refuge, even a force for healing, is a motivation for many creative people.
“Don’t compromise yourself. You’re all you’ve got.” That is great advice from Janis Joplin [quoted in the Changing Course newsletter]. But we may do just that: compromise, stifle ourselves, shut down what we are capable of, creatively and in other ways - often based on our self-limiting thinking. In her book "Revolution From Within," Gloria Steinem cautioned that neglecting to use our human capacities, out of fear or shame, "leaves a small hole in the fabric of our self-esteem. Think of the times you have said, 'I can't write,' 'I can't paint'... Since this was not literally true, you were really saying: 'I can't meet some outside standard. I'm not acceptable as I am.'"
Julia Cho reportedly wrote her first play in eighth grade, and has received commissions from South Coast Repertory, the Mark Taper Forum and many other theaters. She is a graduate of Amherst College, has degrees from UC Berkeley, NYU and The Juilliard School, and won the 2010 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize for her play "The Language Archive." In an interview (15 minutes with . . . Julia Cho, by Cristofer Gross, The Theater Times), she made some very interesting comments about her experiences as a writer - which can apply to many other creative people as well.
“I don’t like emotions… For some reason I’m more comfortable in imaginary circumstances.” Actor William H. Macy One of the primary tools we have for creative expression is imagination. In his book “Stumbling on Happiness” Harvard psychology professor Daniel Gilbert declares that "To see is to experience the world as it is, to remember is to experience the world as it was, but to imagine—ah, to imagine is to experience the world as it isn’t and has never been, but as it might be.
Creative expression may require thinking, planning, research, evaluation and other conscious intellectual activity, but at some stages in the process it can be helpful, even necessary, to set aside thinking and give up an attachment to knowing. One of the early theorists on the creative process, Graham Wallas, defined five stages, including preparation (requiring mental focus, evaluation etc) and incubation, where "nothing external seems to be happening." This unconscious work of our minds may even be the most critical, at least once we have provided enough mental "fuel" to work on.
Laurie R. King is well-known for her detective fiction series featuring Mary Russell, wife and partner of Sherlock Holmes, and another series featuring Kate Martinelli, a homicide inspector in San Francisco. In her autobiography, she asks "Is a writer - is any artist, for that matter -born, or made? Or is it some near-random combination of chance and drive that shapes the person?" And she answers, "Well, yes." She goes on to describe her development as a writer:
Actor, writer, producer Felicia Day has become well-known for her work in web video, such as the Internet musical “Dr. Horrible’s Sing-a-long Blog” and the web series “The Guild”, which she created, writes and stars in. She graduated college as Valedictorian of her class, with degrees in Mathematics and Violin Performance, and went on to pursue acting in movies, TV shows and commercials. In a recent interview on net@night, hosted by Amber MacArthur and Leo Laporte, she commented about feeling "creatively bored" with the kind of repetitive acting jobs she was getting, and decided to write a project based on her passion for gaming, which became The Guild.