Monday, August 16, 2010

What Motivates an Artist?

I originally published this piece on my blog "In A Creative Context" a few months ago.  I thought I would share it with the Mind Body Spirit Odyssey.  Great food for thought for those who create art as well as those who view it. enjoy!
~ diane fergurson

I was looking through my sometimes mysterious, almost always captivating "keep" drawer the other day and I ran across an interesting handout that had been distributed years ago in an art workshop I attended.  It was titled "Artists Motivation".  I have no idea who wrote it, or what book it may have been copied from.  The premise of the article is that when working in the area of artist development, there are core commonalities that underlay the creative impulse.  Most artist's choose to express themselves for a reason and the reasons coalesce into specific creative motivations.

Of course I recognized where I was on this list right away.  What fascinates me, however, is that I can think of specific artist friends that I have who would slot right into each one of these categories.  A few people may blur between a couple of motivations, but for the most part it seems to be pretty cut and dried.  This seems to somewhat contradict the belief, by some, that we don't necessarily peg ourselves one way or another in what we create....we just let it happen.  I guess though, we just "let it happen" from a more common place then we would like to think.  As explained at the end, these motivations can also been viewed as stepping stones taken through one's creative development.

Below is a revised synopsis of the list.  Do you know what motivates you when you create?

-  Artist-scientists:  These artists have a personal mission that is similar to scientists.  They attempt to make the unknown, unseen word...real.  They experiment with art simply for the sake of inquiry.  Many times they have no interest in finishing what they begin....especially if they have found the answer along the way.  Like Einstein, they also believe that whatever the ultimate answer... it must be beautiful.

-  Artist-mathematicians:  Precision and the harmony of perfection is sought by this group of artists.  They often engage themselves through a different language to other artists-mathematicians.  Kind of like an art shorthand, similar to mathematicians speaking in formulas.  I imagine those artists interested in Sacred Geometry would find motivation in this grouping.

-  Artist-explorers:  Innovators on a quest to find the new and different.  The cannot stand to duplicate or replicate.  Their truly original expression has ultimate value and they constantly sharpen and hone that singularity.

-  Artist-activists:  The creative impulse of these artists stem from the need to rectify an unfair situation or even the playing field.  Examples of their causes include the environment, gender or racial equality, reproductive rights, poverty or homelessness.

-  Artist missionaries:  Artists lit with an inner fire.  They have found some sort of answer through their art and need to share it with others.

-  Artist-warriors:  Artists who take the activist role to an extreme by using their art form to combat forces that they find unreasonable. The artist-warrior is often on a crusade to fight with personal demons or forces.  Whereas the activist-artist grapples with external forces, the artist-warrior battles internal ones.

-  Artist-healers:  Artists who are healers feel that their art can actually mend the mind, body and spirit of an individual.  They have a revered way of referring to their art form.

-  Artist-mystics:  Artists who believe that a higher force is working through them.  They believe they are a conduit for the universal power of spirituality, love and enlightenment.

The article then goes on to say that an artist who works in education may combine many of these motivations.  Also that these motivations can be seen as developmental steps on the way to full creative blossoming.

Working with students actually facilitates artistic development through many of these motivations.  For example an artist-warrior, missionary or healer would be a good choice to work with at-risk populations.  The scientist and mathematician artist is often brilliant in creating new curriculum programs.  Artist-explorers work wonders on new classroom projects.  Of course the mystics and healers would be good working with people in art therapy and situations with divine inspiration.

Artwork:  Mandala #3 Illusion by Diane Fergurson

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