“Creativity requires the courage to let go of certainties”. Erich Fromm
I have been reading with interest over the last week some posts and many thoughtful comments about quilts, entering shows and judging decisions.
The first post which caught my attention was on the Completely Cauchy blog. This was a thought provoking post and comments about photo-realistic quilts that won awards in the Houston International Quilt Festival in October This has led to some engaging discussion on originality and creativity.
The second post was by Victoria Gertenbach about being accepted or rejected into shows and focused on the Modern Quilt movement and whether defining this form too narrowly could have the ultimate effect of stifling creativity.
After reading some other blogs today it seems that there has been some criticism of recent judging decisions. Being in Australia and a relatively new quilter with, as yet, limited networks and no experience of entering into shows, much of this criticism has passed me by, although there have obviously been some unhappy quilters.
I don’t have enough experience in the quilting world yet to buy into these discussions in an insightful way borne of experience, but I can comment on my current approach.
I came to quilting with no preconceptions of having ‘rules’ that I must follow, although I have since met lots of quilters who feel that the ‘quilt police’ are always looking over their shoulder. I enjoy playing with colour and form and don’t worry too much about what I should be doing as I go along. For me the pleasure is in the process. I may not be certain about what the finished product will be, but I enjoy learning new techniques and playing with colour. Sometimes after a bad day at work I come home and pull out some of my fabrics and rearrange the them in various colour combinations – I have even been known to pat a pile of fabric because it makes me feel so happy.
I’m not sure that I am creative, but if it makes me feel good, I do it! It obviously hurts if you feel that your work has been “rejected”, and I wonder if the joy of the creative process can be diminished by entering into competitions.
I tend to agree with those that have been troubled by photo-realism quilts (based on other people’s photos or art) winning awards for innovation or creativity. To me creativity involves the originality of the concept or idea, having excellent technical skills does not, in my view, necessarily mean that you are being innovative or creative. I think that this is true for all art forms or mediums of expression.
Dictionary definitions of creativity refer to being inventive or being imaginative. Can the use of the original artwork of others expressed in a new medium be considered as innovative or creative?
Or do you believe that no idea is original – like Austin Kleon in Steal Like An Artist?
For a different slant on creativity see The Creativity Post and the associated book Sparks of Genius: The Thirteen Thinking Tools of the World’s Most Creative People by Robert Root-Bernstein, Michele Root-Bernstein.
I’d love to hear your thoughts.