I first published this two years ago, and had linked it on my personal Facebook page. Today Facebook “memories” brought it back to me. I thought it was worth sharing again.
In my class on making Design-As-You-Go medallion quilts, students choose their own center block and borders, one decision at a time. As the quilts develop, the students engage and encourage their classmates in making skillful choices. All the quilters in that class are very experienced and talented. But not all of them design for themselves regularly.
Last night I received an email from one of my spring students. Sarah said, “I feel so liberated after taking your class.”
Her ability to create, to design for herself, allows her to become more of herself. Liberated. To be herself. She is more powerful. And I believe we all have that power.
I had a long discussion about art and creativity with my friend Ben recently. I asked Ben, “Why is art-making so rewarding? Why must we make art — write, play, sing, act, paint, quilt, arrange flowers — ? How are we transformed by the creative process?”
Within a much larger answer, Ben said,
I think we are least destructive, even within ourselves, when we are most creatively fulfilled. Isn’t this where we separate ourselves from all other animals? In the ability to create what was not there before? In new and totally unique ways? Doesn’t creative exploration create new and different creative pathways within us? Don’t we thereby become more than we were before?
I think we are most true to our natures when we create, when we engage creatively. …
I think it is rewarding because we are doing what we are meant to do. Growing, learning, trying, failing, succeeding, exploring and expanding our natures.
We are expanding our natures. In my response to him, I agree with his summary and explain my personal experience.
I find creation to be powerful. My tagline on my blog is “Be powerful. CREATE!” I mentioned when we visited in July about my work to regain my personal power after my illness. And I have found that expression through writing and designing, and transforming ideas and colors and shapes into tangible objects is one of the primary ways [for me] to build power.
I keep pushing my personal boundaries of what I can do. That growth makes me more powerful and MORE OF THE PERSON I AM.
A book I read several years ago by Anna Quindlen is called Object Lessons. One of the things that struck me most when I was finishing the book is how the characters, through the period of the novel, all became more themselves. NOT that the book revealed that, but that their true selves were more revealed to other characters and even to themselves through the story. They became themselves.
And funny, I just dipped into the first of the novel on Amazon and I find a passage I hadn’t remembered, don’t remember as being part of the theme of the book, about the 12-year-old girl main character. The passage describes being in school and told by the nun to write an answer to the question “who are you?” The girl wrote “I am still becoming who I am.”
That’s how I feel. … my quilting work has taken off in ways I never would have anticipated. And that also has been creative growth, which has pushed my other personal growth in new ways. Mostly, perhaps, I’ve become more willing to try other things that are different or “hard,” even if not in the realm of creativity.
All I know is that creation helps me become myself. And becoming myself is powerful.
We all have creative power within ourselves, though we express it in different ways. It is a power of transformation. We transform materials, notes on a page, our thoughts, ourselves. We transform others as we reach out to them to teach or encourage. As we exercise that transformational power, it gets stronger. We become more liberated to be our true selves, revealing layers even we did not know were there.
You can become more powerful, too. Be powerful. CREATE!