I find a rusty piece of metal that resembles an angel. It seems to tell me exactly what it wants to become. The rusty metal, the resemblance to a winged figure, and the mood I’m in sets off the sirens and the Muse attacks with an idea so compelling, I get excited.
Whatever this sequence of events is that ends with a bubbling up of giddy ecstasy is of vital importance to us all as creators. It is a topic vitally worthy of exploration. I, as a found-object artist, find that connection with inspiration indispensable.
This is what I want to share with people, this exquisite connection with creativity itself and the inevitable byproduct of joyous inspiration. But, alas, this is not something that can be taught, learned, nor shared.
Words fall short.
“We must have inspiration or we will not create at all. I can’t see it working any other way.”
But nonetheless, I continue to learn more and more about the nature of inspiration. And therefore I keep trying to share what I can. So far I’ve identified three ways to coax the Muse into working with us:
- Be a mad scientist; experiment with materials and techniques often.
- Be an explorer; look at your environment and other examples of creativity with a sense of adventure and curiosity.
- Be a hunter; don’t wait for inspiration to show up. Hunt it down.
Occasionally there will be an instance where inspiration comes directly from your found object. Sometimes the object actually instructs you on what it wishes to become. In his book, The Way of the Human Being, Calvin Luther Martin says that a man is walking along the beach and finds a piece of drift wood which tells him it wants to be carved into a walrus.
Michelangelo says he saw an angel in the stone and carved away everything that was not an angel.
Objects may not have inherent intelligence, but they do have the power of influence. If you are the artist chosen to collaborate with an object to help it become what it wants to be, it is a privilege as well as a challenge.
We must have inspiration or we will not create at all. I can’t see it working any other way. I suspect everyone treats the subject of inspiration differently however. Some may ignore its inner workings and just wait to be struck by an idea, with no real regard as to how the idea came about.
I wholly believe in the magic of creativity and I’m willing to swim in the reverie of inspiration, eyes open and ready to catch all its mystery and delight. I’m anxious to discover as many ways as possible to become inspired, inspire others, and to learn how and why inspiration hits when it does.
The spell of an object may eventually influence you and I’m hoping that if and when you spot an object that inspires you to help it become something unique, you will experience the same wild, ecstatic sense of discovery. With an adventurous spirit and a little courage, we can rise to the challenge and embrace the privilege again and again.