Recently I spent the weekend with a friend who is a very talented artist. We were talking about ways she could get her work out there in galleries. She told me that the art organizations in her community are very “closed.” In other words, she said, “When I tell them I majored in physics and math, they are no longer interested in my art. Because I didn’t major in art, they shut me out.”
These people in her community are creativity snobs. Since when is creativity something that one exclusively learns in school? The talent and the creative spirit is what is inside of us whether we are fine artists, poets, writers or musicians. To confirm this statement I recently heard a Fresh Air interview with opera great, Dolora Zajick. The diva talked about not start to sing until she was 22 years-old and studying pre-med. Later, I read about Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie whose amazing novel, Americanah is rocking the literary world (I will be reviewing that book later) and who began studying science and math before she began writing.
Think back to the great artists of our past, people like Van Gogh, Paul Gauguin, and Picasso. How many of them studied at art schools? Gauguin, in fact, took one continuing education art class and that was it. Most of the greats study on their own with the help of masters.
If we believe that creativity belongs to one person and not another, we will miss a lot. Indeed, my friend had an interest in art her entire life, but her parents didn’t have the resources to enable her to go that route. (Zajick talked about the same thing. Her parents didn’t own a piano. She didn’t pursue music because that option was not available to her in her formative years). My friend’s parents did not send her to art classes or to study art as a young student. When she reached a point in her life when she could create on her own, she began pursuing her dream. I think she’s as great an artist and as talented an artist as those who attend colleges and universities and study art. She’s just had to work harder.
What do you think? Is my friend or Adichie or Zajick any less talented than those filling our arts schools?
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