I call this series “Power Builders” because that’s what these little items do for me. They make me more powerful in my art and in my life. I hope they do the same for you. Some of the links will be about how other creative people use their time, structure their work, find inspiration. Some may be videos, music, or podcasts to inspire you. Some of it will be directly quilt-related but much of it will not. What you see in Power Builders will depend on what I find. Feel free to link great things in comments, too.
Today’s focus is on inspiration and also on how we share that.
1) Do you remember Bobby McFerrin? Most people will associate him with the ubiquitous song of 1988, Don’t Worry, Be Happy. What they may not realize is that breakthrough song was only part of a long career, both before and since. With ten Grammy awards, he’s as well known now for his improvisational chops, shifting effortlessly in wordless song. He carries his audience along with joy. The reason I’m including him as a power builder is that his goal in performing is to provide listeners with “unparalleled joy, a new perspective on creativity, rejection of the predictable, and a sudden, irreversible urge to lead a more spontaneous existence.” We can all use more of that!
Here are two links to let you explore more. First is an interview with the site On Being with Krista Triplett. To listen, hit the PLAY EPISODE link on the upper right of the page. While the site has a spiritual focus, and indeed the interview includes discussion of his spirituality, the real emphasis of the interview is McFerrin’s artistic inspiration. The second link is a wildly popular demonstration of the musical pentatonic scale. He leads his audience in singing with his movements. While leading the audience, he sings as well, a different set of notes. You must see and hear it to believe it.
2) Bill Watterson, the creator of the much-beloved Calvin and Hobbes comic strip, is a completely different kind of artist from Bobby McFerrin, but he also led us in rejecting the predictable, and in a new view of creativity. In this Washington Post interview, he discusses his inspirations, as well as the development of his art over many years.
3) While on the topic of inspirations, here is a short overview called “Inspiration: Where Do Artists Get Their Ideas?“ Not surprisingly, one of the prime sources through time is religion and ritual. But we also use art to record history, tell stories, teach lessons, preserve images, and experiment with media.
4) Inspiration is a key to making art, but art is limited in value if not shared. Here is an interesting article on the value of art museum field trips, especially for children whose world may be narrower due to economic or other family circumstances. The lesson for those of us with the privilege of art may be simply to share it more generously.
So what good does a field trip to an art museum do? Researchers catalogued a range of benefits for those who went, ranging from critical thinking skills to measures of tolerance and “historical empathy,” but perhaps the most striking finding is how magnified those benefits were across the board for children from schools in rural areas and serving low-income populations, with effect sizes double or triple those of other students. In fact, most of the positive impact from these field trips accrued to students who had never been to Crystal Bridges before, whereas “much smaller or null effects” were observed in relatively more privileged students who presumably have easier access to enriching experiences like this one.
5) From openculture.com, a post on street art. Google is providing location information for more than 10,000 items of street art, freely shared for all to see.
6) Finally, a fabulous source of vintage artwork from books at reusableart.com. This is all in the public domain due to age. Take a look at the categories on the left margin. They range from animals and alphabets to transportation and trees.
What has inspired you this week? Let us know in comments.