Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Fostering Creative Connections


This is a picture of Gabriel Deerman, my son's art instructor here in Qatar. Elias has autism, but Mr. Deerman still saw immense potential in him, rather than limitations. Peter, his brother, who has helped him with art projects at home.
What happens when people gather or team up to create? I believe there are wondrous transformations that burst open when we support one another's creativity. Words, inspirations, like fireflies ricocheting around on a dark night, give flickers of not only encouragement, but more conceptions to shape and define. Sometimes new ideas can even become lightening bolts that shift us in new directions. Yes, bonding in creativity can be that powerful.

Video of Mr Gabriel's Art Studio with Artist Elias Shumway
By Megan J. Hansen at meganjhansen.blogspot.com

Certainly, the lone writer shack or art studio is a place where ideas can only emerge in solitude. Yet, undoubtedly part of the creative process in any artist, whether it be in an art studio, kitchen, laboratory, or concert hall, is connected with a community--a band of people who spark new fires of creativity. What would have occurred within the burgeoning Impressionist movement if Monet, Renoir, Cezanne, Pizzaro, and others would not have gathered to meet in a Paris cafe for several years? With their collaboration of creativity in the early days of their careers, they fielded off their own self depreciating judgements and critics of the day. Those connections and friendships made all the difference to what would become the artistic movement of Impressionism.

This last year has been one of increased creative collaboration in our home, as we welcomed two teenage girls who asked to live with us so they could further their own beginning careers. And with them, others came too. We have been a group of musicians, artists, videographers, and writers. The result has been remarkable in the shaping of all of us--not only the enhancement of our own creativity, but how others can go to new levels around us. I have noticed, with new awareness, how my own words and encouragement can dramatically affect those at my elbow. Others lift my own sense of what I can do or be. There is no hint of competition, all the debris of the world roll away. The genuine desire to see other's creativity awaken is just as important as your own progress.

Although I could be a mother to all of them, we have worked together to form a creative community from India, Ukraine, the US, and France. All of us have not only tried to heighten our own creative paths, but to ignite support for one another's ideas. Also, each of them has helped me to navigate with my son who has autism, and launch him in new artistic directions. Although creative endeavors obviously require the rigor of solo work, I believe creativity also needs the humanistic glaze, so to speak, to finish it off. Others enliven our work. They elevate us to places we could not rise to without them.

Creative bonding is infectious and exhilarating. To see people who want to bring others along who are straggling, maybe even languishing, such as my son with autism, has moved me deeply. With that sense of enthusiasm for all things creative, you begin to see the potential of others' gifts too--people with seeming limitations. As we all teamed up to talk and brainstorm about my son's art work, ideas flooded the room on how to help him improve and develop as an artist. As a mom, I felt that I was not the lone voice to advocate for him, but there were others to lean on. We all became excited to launch him and his efforts. Now we have been asked to help create a special art barn this summer where we can celebrate creativity. The ideas just keep flowing....

A year ago when Elias had his artwork exhibited here in Doha at the Arab Museum of Modern Art.
Blogpost of Our Picasso's Art Exhibition
One of my favorite books that I used with my own children when they were growing up was Doing Art Together: Discovering the joys of appreciating and creating art as taught at The Metropolitan Museum of Art's famous parent-child workshop.  Storfer and Jones, the authors, catch these ideas that I cherish: "We come together as a group of strangers, and through working together, we become a family of friends. I have seen how people from very diverse backgrounds come to identify with a common pursuit, no matter what their differences are." The bonding of family relationships with creative pursuits is real, as our connectedness is increased. Our soul are more linked, and we see hidden possibilities to excavate together.

Creativity, whether it be individually or in a group, requires forgoing some time off the screen or away from other concerns. But it also means entering into another place of nirvana and epiphanies where ideas are shaped--on the canvas, in a musical composition, or in a poem. In our fast paced, multi-tasked society, creative pursuits are often times neglected or postponed. There is room for all of us to cultivate our creative souls a little more. And with some collaboration of others, the joy can be unimaginable. It can change a life, even a young man with autism.

The ripples of our efforts to create and help others will only cause swelling waves--in the big ocean we all live in.