Because most philosophies that frown on reproduction don't survive.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

The Urge to Create

"God saw all that he had made, and it was very good” (Gn 1:31)

The creative mood seizes me in fits and starts, and recently I've been filled with an enthusiams for crocheting and knitting and even a desire to make a quilt. Apparently I'm not the only one who hears the siren call of the sewing machine. From the Wall Street Journal:

Jennifer Culpepper, a hip Washington, D.C., 33-year-old who carries an iPod nano and uses a Mac laptop, has a new gadget on her holiday wish list: a sewing machine.

Ms. Culpepper, who recently learned to make a tote bag and a blouse at a six-week beginner's sewing class, is one of the young adults who are helping the craft of sewing make a comeback. She says she has realized "how creative it is, rather than it being one of those things that old ladies do."

[Stitch Lounge]
A sewing class at the Stitch Lounge in San Francisco

Amid new interest among fashion-obsessed teens, as well as Gen-Xers settling down in their first homes, fabric stores that teach sewing are seeing their classes filling up and adding waiting lists. The renewed interest is also starting to give a boost to the sewing industry, which has struggled to stay afloat over the past few decades. Manufacturers are selling more sewing machines, and pattern companies, which have rolled out products geared to a hipper, more fashion-savvy set, report that those efforts are paying off in bigger sales.

When even the hipsters are uncovering their latent creative urges, you know there's a part of human nature that can't be supressed. Pope John Paul II expressed the wonder of creating in his Letter to Artists:
None can sense more deeply than you artists, ingenious creators of beauty that you are, something of the pathos with which God at the dawn of creation looked upon the work of his hands. A glimmer of that feeling has shone so often in your eyes when—like the artists of every age—captivated by the hidden power of sounds and words, colours and shapes, you have admired the work of your inspiration, sensing in it some echo of the mystery of creation with which God, the sole creator of all things, has wished in some way to associate you.
We are all called to become "co-creators" with God, starting the the raw material of our own lives.
Not all are called to be artists in the specific sense of the term. Yet, as Genesis has it, all men and women are entrusted with the task of crafting their own life: in a certain sense, they are to make of it a work of art, a masterpiece.

It is important to recognize the distinction, but also the connection, between these two aspects of human activity. The distinction is clear. It is one thing for human beings to be the authors of their own acts, with responsibility for their moral value; it is another to be an artist, able, that is, to respond to the demands of art and faithfully to accept art's specific dictates.(2) This is what makes the artist capable of producing objects, but it says nothing as yet of his moral character. We are speaking not of moulding oneself, of forming one's own personality, but simply of actualizing one's productive capacities, giving aesthetic form to ideas conceived in the mind.

The distinction between the moral and artistic aspects is fundamental, but no less important is the connection between them. Each conditions the other in a profound way. In producing a work, artists express themselves to the point where their work becomes a unique disclosure of their own being, of what they are and of how they are what they are. And there are endless examples of this in human history. In shaping a masterpiece, the artist not only summons his work into being, but also in some way reveals his own personality by means of it. For him art offers both a new dimension and an exceptional mode of expression for his spiritual growth. Through his works, the artist speaks to others and communicates with them. The history of art, therefore, is not only a story of works produced but also a story of men and women. Works of art speak of their authors; they enable us to know their inner life, and they reveal the original contribution which artists offer to the history of culture.
I think one of the reasons that artisans have traditionally enjoyed such respect is that everyone, on some level, can understand the desire to stand back and gaze at something he has created and say, with God, "This is good.

So if you're feeling the urge to do something creative yourself, my friend Bronwyn notes that November is National Novel Writing Month, during which aspiring writers attempt to write a 50,000 word novel over the course of 30 days. Sounds fun, no? She tells you how to watch her progress and cheer her along.

Go create something already!

No comments: