A conversation with my scientist friend and her scientist husband last weekend sparked fresh thinking about creativity and how artists are creative. We had been talking about our experiences in music growing up. While explaining my “divorce” from music during my last year in college, I commented that I wanted to be a creative artist not a re-creator. What does that mean?
Creative artists create in two ways: they create or they re-create. Both require creativity, but there’s a universe of difference between them. So which do which?
Those who create something from nothing, e.g. writing down an original story only they have thought of or a composer who writes down music that he hears in his mind, a sculptor who takes a piece of marble and sees a statue in it that she then creates by chipping away the stone or a painter with a blank canvas who draws lines and shapes and gives them color with paint — these are all creators. The imagination takes an idea, develops it, and brings it into conscious mind for the artist to express in a way unique to her. This process often requires specific conditions also unique to the artist such as complete quiet, specific kinds of materials to work with, uninterrupted time, etc. Each idea comes from the artist’s personal foundation of experience and knowledge, distinct to the artist’s personality and emotions.
A re-creator takes something that’s already been created such as music or a play and re-creates what the creator intended according to the music score or the written word. Re-creators must have knowledge of the creator and time in which she worked, performance conventions, and technical skill in order to perform the work. The re-creator must understand what the creator wants to achieve and be able to technically achieve it. This could be the way a symphony is played to achieve a certain sound landscape, or it could be how a particular character acts in a play, the way he sounds or walks or dresses. All this takes imagination but in direct collaboration with the rational mind’s knowledge. Re-creators are musicians, dancers, actors, directors (who are also creators of the visual side ) and art curators or gallery owners.
I went from a re-creator (pianist) to a creator (writer). I chose to do that because I discovered my language of creative expression was not music but English. I believed that music should be left to those who were better at re-creating it than I was.
However, I am still a re-creator. Every time I pick up a novel, as I read, I am re-creating in my mind what the writer (creator) has written, usually in a visual landscape like scenes playing out in a movie. Each time I encounter some kind of art, my mind re-creates by learning about it and trying to understand it. And when I listen to music, my imagination loves to play and make up things that spark from the sound while my conscious mind watches……
Humans are creative beings. We use creativity to solve problems, conflicts and cook meals as well as create or re-create in the arts. It is the imagination’s country, where we are always welcome…..