Tuesday, July 13, 2010

"Not Creative"

Above: Jayn at Live and Learn a few years ago, Barbie funshop.

I recently started a new job at Michaels. In addition to working for Provocraft, I’m also a Michaels’ associate, and I hope to soon be one of the crafting teachers.

I love it – I love hearing about what people are making, and I love helping folks find exactly the right product or method to finish their project. I’m finding that I know more about a lot of crafts than I realized.

However there is something that disturbs me, something I keep hearing from various customers, especially from parents coming in to buy their kids’ school project materials.

I’m not creative”, and the rarer variant, “I’m not artistic”.

It confuses me a little. The people saying this are in a craft supplies store, have made the plan and choice to come in to a craft supplies store. And yet they hold a belief about themselves as not creative.

I’ve seen panic on the faces of parents with their middle school aged kids. The kids will have a list from their teacher of the supplies they need, or a sketch of the project they are supposed to complete. The families pace back and forth along the couple of aisles pretty much dedicated to school project materials. They bite their lips and consult their lists. They want to know if a particular glue “will work”, if these colors go together, if this product is the same as the listed supply item.

Apparently some kids are allowed to use the Mission kits, while other schools insist they start from scratch. Sometimes it appears that the student has designed a fantasy diorama, but once the teacher has signed off on the design, then it becomes immutable. I remember a child in a futile search for a ready-made miniature figure wearing a scarf blowing in the wind, while riding a unicorn. I think it was to be a book report. I had several suggestions, but I don’t know how she eventually solved it.

Above: Jayn's Flower Shop miniature diorama - detail.

So while funding cuts destroy school art classes, crafty, artsy projects are all the rage in the other subjects.

I worry slightly about the effects of this trend on school kids’ essay writing skills – but then again not everyone enjoys writing like I do. The projects sound like fun, and give kids another way to express themselves. Or should if they are genuinely being allowed to do so. Hmm – we can trust school to let kids express themselves, right?

Picasso said, “All children are artists. The trick is to remain so as adults”. So these frightened, self-deprecating parents and other adults with the sadly skewed view of themselves as “not creative” – where did they come from?

The answer is, for the vast majority, school.

We already know that school does a wonderful job of making math seem difficult, poetry irrelevant, science confusing and history dull. Why would we expect that school would magically be able to keep art making and creativity alive, vibrant and exciting?

Maybe it’s a good thing that school arts funding is being cut.

More on this:
“Encouraging Creativity”
“Found: The Artist Within”

1 comment:

Claudia said...

Wow so true I am one of those "not creative people" after reading this I can proudly say I am not only creative but also atistic lol