The LACMA team is working together from our respective homes to bring you interesting content and creative activities while the museum is temporarily closed to the public. We may not be able to gather together, but we can still create something beautiful.
I want to begin this blog on creativity by sharing a memory. On a metro ride to downtown L.A. one day, a conversation took place between two gentlemen sitting behind me. The two men were talking about how artists like Henri Matisse and Claude Monet were influenced by children’s art. During the conversation, one of the friends asked the other, “But why children’s art?” “To put it simply,” the other replied, “creativity has no limits for children.” Before he could finish his thought, the men got up and walked toward the rear exit. Days after, I began dusting off my old art education books to further explore the concept of creativity. It wasn’t long before I dozed off and began to daydream about my own childhood experiences with art. Like many other kids in my elementary school, I drew stick figures, houses with odd perspectives, and funny-looking pets. I drew all the time—usually as a pastime but also as a response to life’s adversities.
Due to the changing nature of our world, creativity is indispensable. It manifests itself in the way we dress, walk, talk, teach, adapt, and respond to extraordinary situations. It is often an individual spontaneous act, but can also be socially embedded. As a special human quality, creativity is underpinned by a current of energy that is both harmonious and chaotic, captivating and informative. Whether we tap into our creativity out of self-fulfillment, or as a defense mechanism for protection from an uncertain future, we all have the capacity to be creative!
Over the past few months, people around the world have been using their creative energies to cope with our current crisis. From virtual birthday celebrations to DJ parties to live workouts, social media has been the ultimate creative platform for the young and the old alike! Children have been particularly innovative during this time in exercising their talents through artistic engagement and experimentation. Recently, a group of young girls from different Los Angeles County communities shared with me the art they made using a variety of media. Two of the girls are regular participants of the LACMA On-Site community library program I oversee, and the other two—who live further away—are accessing the museum through our online collections database and Make Art @ Home resources. Excited to learn more about their creative journeys, I interviewed the girls to find out how art is helping them to build resilience while they are being homeschooled.
Hello artists. Thank you for Zoom chatting with me. How are you enjoying distance learning?
AR: I get distracted through distance learning because my classmates don’t mute their microphones and there is always background noise. But I get to wake up later and be in an air conditioned room all day!
VIR: I feel I am not as focused as when I am at school...It’s very distracting.
JH: It’s very different. School was my favorite place to go to, and I also usually go shopping for art supplies and now my mom and dad have to do it for me.
MV: It feels different that I am at home. I miss my friends, I miss my classroom, I miss my teacher.
Yeah, it’s different for me, too. I take mini breaks throughout the day and draw things I see outside of my window. I see all sorts of things that inspire me. What inspires each of you to make art?
AR: I get inspired by seeing the work of other artists. When I go outside I look up at the sky and clouds and mix colors to try to paint what I see.
VIR: Sometimes it’s nature. I like drawing things from nature.
JH: My dad inspires me because he represents different cultures in his cartoons and includes people of color so they feel that they stand out.
MV: When I look outside and find different plants or trees it makes me feel like drawing or painting.
I get inspiration from nature as well! I especially love the organic forms I see during my morning walks. Sometimes I make drawings of those forms and it makes me feel tingly inside to see them come alive on paper. How do you feel when you are being creative?
AR: When I am being creative, I feel like I leave this world and go into my own world because whenever I paint, I think that I am in the painting like a universe of art where only I live.
VIR: Art makes me feel calm.
JH: It makes me feel happy and calm.
MV: It makes me feel excited and sometimes relaxing.
Yes, art can be very relaxing. Are any of you working on an art project now?
AR: Yes, I started a drawing of a girl, but I also did a painting at AC Bilbrew Library during one of LACMA’s workshops.
VIR: I am making an abstract artwork using different lines and colors.
JH: I am working on a comic strip about a girl who is not very famous, but she has this amazing art talent and nobody knows.
MV: I am building a paper city from a video I saw.
Wow! I am extremely happy to hear about the influence that art has had in your life. Never stop imagining and never stop creating!
At the end of our lively conversation, I thanked the four artists for sharing their artistic creations and lifelong endeavors with me. Their exposure to art in different spaces and through different media outlets has allowed them to discover new things about themselves and their immediate environment. As innately curious beings, they are inventing, creating, and problem solving—three essential qualities for understanding who they are and what is important to them. The role that creativity is playing in their processes of resilience is invaluable and commendable, and as aspiring artists, teachers, leaders, and performers, they are paving the way for a future that doesn’t seem so gray. This is their world now, and we must continue to foster creative climates in and out of their homes where they can visually convey what they oftentimes cannot express in words.