Pondering creativity, change, and the Industrial Age…

Creativity…is it as unique and unusual as we think, or have we removed it over time and through the industrial age?  I was pondering what creativity might look like, and is it really true that only some are meant to be artists? The thought dawned on me that artistic and creative expression can look many different ways, and likely we are all creative, since we were created in the image of our Creator.  Therefore we must each have the desire and capacity to be creative.  You guys have to follow my train of thought here as I get this out…

So if you think of simpler times, agricultural family life and communities, an example in today might be Mennonite communities, everyone is using their hands in the course of their days to be creative.  You have men building things (buildings, toys, tools etc.), you have women making clothes, quilting, making soft dolls, cooking for family, and greater community cooking where they are canning foods…children are taught very young to do these things too.  The work of art then is not a painting or a sculpture that is only to be admired from a distance, but rather things that are kept close and used daily, touched, felt, consumed and purposeful.  Not that artwork is not purposeful, especially in recording history, but these other possible creative expressions are just a part of life, practical, useful, celebrated, and enjoyed by all, but not necessarily every going to be experienced by a greater body of people.

Have you ever watched a skilled bread-maker knead and pound the dough, and then braid it together, wash it with egg or milk and bake it until it comes out perfect and golden brown?  The smell of fresh baked bread rushes into your nostrils, and brings you to the kitchen, salivating for some fresh butter to melt on the warm bread…it is truly an art.  I am a terrible pie maker.  I learned that very young, I might not be a total failure, as with proper instruction, I might be able to learn to do it, but there is a skill that some have to make the most incredible crusts and pies you have ever seen or tasted.  I used to stop on a little country road on my way home from work to get pies from this tiny little stop where the woman made crusts like shortbread, all filled with pure ingredients from the farm garden…they were worth every penny.

So what if that is the kind of creativity that many have, creativeness expressed through love and joy and shared with those around, but temporary.

Have you ever seen someone make hand-made, well-crafted furniture out of wood?  I find watching them very interesting.  There are so many skills involved, and so much problem solving and creativity.  Then there is the finishing, with wood so smooth, it feels like satin to the touch…I remember an old Singer sewing machine lid my grandma had on her machine, and it was all intricately carved with detailed designs of swirls and flowers…it was amazing, and likely all hand done.  As fine a piece of art as a painting in my opinion.

So what if the industrial age and mass production removed the creative expression for many which might have been the outlet they needed to keep them sane?  What happens if that unexpressed creativity becomes an internal frustration that many don’t even recognize is there?  I think for many people, being able to navigate life well would not be so hard with a creative outlet.  Sort of like preventative maintenance. 

I remember going to a camp on a farm as a child for a few weeks in the summer, and I remember that many of the children knew how to carve or whittle things out of wood with their jackknife.  I began to learn, but was not there long enough to learn well how to do it.

All of this creativity is also relational and often shared and experienced in community of some sort – either family, or larger community.

Anyway, just some ponderings…

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