April 16, 2007

Turning my Brain 'On' Again.

This weekend was the annual Arts Gathering up at my church where there were two days full of great music and workshops and the whole event was FREE. Chris watched Ezra so that I could attend a couple of the workshops on Saturday afternoon, and I had so much fun that I'm thinking seriously of signing up for some writing classes at one of the bajillion local community colleges around here. I went to a creative writing workshop taught by my dear friend Susanna Childress who recently moved to Holland, Michigan where she and her husband teach at Hope College. Susanna is an incredible poet, and she has recently received her PhD in English from Florida State University. (gak!)

Her class was ridiculously enjoyable for me, and I realized that I'm one who genuinely LOVES to learn. I don't ever want to stop absorbing. I want to always be trying new things and acquiring new skills and stretching my mind to experience and embrace art that never stops challenging me.

Susanna's husband, Josh, also taught a workshop- and he spoke of how we as a society now-a-days have been taught to TURN OFF our brains when it comes to "art." Art has become nothing more than entertainment or amusement...something we can pop the top on, chug down in a few gulps, and throw away. We work hard all week just so we can make it to the weekend, where we will be able to sit in our houses and watch mindless TV or ridiculously stupid movies and not have to think about anything at all.

Josh was challenging us to start using our brains again by becoming culturally aware, knowing what's going on in our world, and seeking out art that changes the way we think and sticks with us longer than 30 seconds. There is really, really good art out there- you just have to look for it. Whether it be finding some stunning photography, or powerful writing, or new music that speaks to you, or renting some GOOD movies that deal with issues and force you to open your eyes... it's all available to you, but it requires a little digging. Dig! Dig!

So, pick up a good, classic novel! Support your local artists who are creating art that moves you! Hang art on your walls that does more than just match your couch! Join book clubs! Create art of your own! And then, share it! Have stimulating conversations over a great meal that you created! Pick up your camera or your sketchbook and wander!

Josh also spoke about how this whole process of 'expanding your horizons' can be really awkward at first... Being the 'smart kid' in school was never cool, was it? It takes GUTS to raise your hand or to try new things. But great art is important, and it's worth finding.

So, I'm going to start digging and I'm going to start creating again. I haven't written a new song in a couple (three?!!) years, and that's my first goal on the list.

What art inspires you?

What do you guys do (or want to start doing) that keeps your brains turned on?


Misguided Mommy said...

mines boring and probably doesn't really count, but i loooove scrapbooking, there is something about taking the pictures i took and putting them together with different colors and patterns to make these great memories, for brandon rather then a baby book i opted to make a scrap book, it is beautiful and such a great lsting memory for him....plus i loooooove to read, i would love it more if brandon didnt think my books were for chewing on

Megan said...

I thought I was going to be a doctor or a nurse my entire life. I wanted to work with babies. Obstetrics. I wanted to be a labor and delivery nurse like my Mom. I was a candy striper at the hospital where my Mom worked and I loved it, loved it, loved it. I was the girl who dressed up as a doctor on career day, and thought she had her whole life mapped out.

I was accepted into the University of San Francisco in 1999, into the Nursing Program. I completed three semesters before something called me away. I can't describe it. But it threw me for a loop. I was a mess...I didn't know what to do. Ultimately I changed majors, got into Communications, and absolutely lived and breathed every writing class I took. New plan? I was going to be a writer.

Today I work in HR. It's funny how life steers us down different paths.

But I still have a fire for medicine. And writing is an incredible release for me. I think about medicine every single day and wonder how my life would be different now if I was a nurse or a doctor. Certainly it'd be very different. And I feel a longing to get back into medicine somehow, even if it's through volunteer work. I would LOVE to volunteer at a Children's Hospital. For me, that would be food for the soul.

Now, if I can only get the kick in the pants I need to actually do it.

mo-mar said...

Good topic. I love to make things ... I just don't know what yet. Food, painting, sewing, gardens .. who knows? It's true that your whole life is used up with other stuff so you don't get much time to experiement. Whether that is good or bad, sometimes can't be helped in just surviving. I do know that when I see, hear, touch art it moves me in ways I can't always explain. There is something about "creating" that is good for your soul.

mo-mar said...

oh .... and I do support my local artist.

Christy said...

I love scrapbooking, crocheting, and writing. I am a 90 year old woman trapped inside of a 25 year old's body.

Flo Oakes said...

I loved this blog!
Since music is my inspiration/calling/whatever..I will mention this: There is a singer/songwriter-Derek Webb, who is an amazing Christian/theologian/writer/thinker that spoke recently in a podcast about how sad it is that "Christian Music" is always just a cheap copy of art that already exists. So, being in agreement with good ol' Derek, I'm inspired to make music that is GOOD art..not just music that fits some category that sells to a certain group of people who listen only to "Positive and encouraging, hit radio!"
So, I also thought I'd say that from what I've heard on myspace, your music is definitely what I would deem "good art"!!
Also, check out Derek Webb's podcasts, they really make you think!

Emery Jo said...

Flo- it's funny you should mention Derek Webb because he was there- at our church- speaking and playing a set on the opening night. He really is great and challenging and he's definetly creating "good art" himself.. I'll have to give his podcasts a listen!

Flo Oakes said...

No way!! I had no idea! Neato!