10 December 2010

Working Artist Initiative: Destined to Fly

This is an exerpt of a blog post by Makoto Fujimura. He is a painter who paints in a Japanese style called Nihonga. In 1992 he was the youngest artist to ever have had a piece acquired by the Museum of Contemporary Art in Tokyo. He is also the founder of the International Arts Movement, of which my Working Artist Initiative group is a part. If you are interested in seeing his work, check out his web site at http://www.makotofujimura.com. The words below are from this week's reading assignment for my Working Artist Intitative group. 
{Print of an original from Makoto Fujimura. I just happen to be partial to the letter "E" ;-}

Fujimura's words are in italics. My thoughts are in red.

Have you ever felt awkward, and felt the “lumps”? If you are an artist, perhaps you began your journey realizing that you are different from others. We have gotten used to having these “lumps” and accepted the fact that to the world the “lumps” looks strange and unnatural. Your teachers and your friends may not fully understand your intuition to try to fly with your winged “lumps.” What started out, at first, as trying to be yourself, may have become an effort to shield and protect your true identity from the world. Perhaps rebellion became the only path you could journey on. Your “lumps” became a defense mechanism, or even a weapon.

I have totally felt the 'lumps.' But what I am very happy about is that through the miracle of this blog I have created my 'tribe' and by so doing I have not felt so all alone. You mean there are others out there just like me? Brilliant! And I no longer have to shield my 'lumps' from the rest of the world. I don't know that I ever used my 'lumps' like a weapon. I am not into using weapons of any sort, even if they are paintbrushes and chasing hammers and pliers. Just to know that there are others with 'lumps' like mine is so edifying!

What if C.S. Lewis is right, and you are destined to “fly”? What if our awkwardness, and our uniqueness points to the potential of the person we are meant to become? In order to learn to fly, you need to be patient, and ready to experience many failures; we need an environment where we can fail often, but you also need opportunities to peer into the wonders and mysteries of the vista of the world to come.

Destined to fly! What a concept! I can totally identify with the idea that you have to be patient. But that is hard. When I see the success of someone I admire, my first instinct is to be a bit jealous of the spot that they are in. But I also know that I have to channel that jealousy, that envy into a plan of action to grow through failures. Those who find success are ones that work at it and build upon every failure. I also like the idea that we need an environment to fail in. And fail often. For it is from those failures that you learn best. From trying something and not being an instant success it fortifies what it is that you really want to do and sets you on your unique path.

Even if you are not cognizant of a grace reality, you can still create in the possibility of future grace. That takes faith to do, but if you can do that, you will be joining so many artists of the past who wrestled deeply with faith, doubt, poverty, rejection, longing and yet chose to create. Know that the author of creativity longs for you to barge in, break open the gift you have been saving; He will not only receive you, He can bring you purpose behind the battle, and rebuke those who reject you.

"The possibility of future grace"...this concept rocks my world. I may not have the reality of full grace at this moment, but the possibility is enormous. If I can only trust in myself enough to feel worthy of the gift that I have been given, if I can but stop my hands from trembling a bit to untie the ribbons of that gift and with grace be open to the possibility that there is a greater future in store for me. God wants me to be creative. And when I open myself to that notion with a leap of faith, the Universe will open up with all the tools that I need to succeed.

So endeavor to create generatively. Don’t be a critic when you create. You can look at your work later and discern what is good. Your growth as an artist is not in being able to impress others, or even God.

I am my own worst critic. And my inner critic is incompetent :-) If I can create from a place of love and authenticity, then I will create good works. And that is the hand of the Divine working through me.
 Growth comes by understanding how limited you are. Learning to use your wings means learning the discipline as a means to grace. Give yourself boundaries and goals; start with small things, like having a small table dedicated to your poems. Emily Dickinson wrote her poems on a small 18 inch by 18 inch desk in her room in Amherst. Do not put anything other than your poems, though, on that area. Guard against the world invading your boundaries. Learning to paint, play the piano, or dance has much to do with keeping your self-set boundaries, otherwise you will not own your craft. We are each given unique wings with unique particulars of how to use our wings; no one else can fly for you. You have to jump off the edge, and spread your wings.

Wow. This paragraph really grabs me. When I think of growth I think of how expansive the world is. But to focus instead on how limited I am is really the crux. In this moment, I am limited but the potential is huge! The whole world awaits in possibility. When I understand that my present self is limited in knowledge and that I don't know it all yet, then I can really begin to grow. Because by recognizing that I am unfinished is to invite the blessings that will change me and help me to grow realizing that there are no limits. I like the idea of having that sacred space to create. I have that, but I admit that I let other things intrude in on it. Not the least of which is the computer that really sucks my creative time and zaps my creative energy. I need to set up some boundaries in that space if I am to succeed. My wings are as unique as my fingerprints and my soaring and my heights are only known to me.

I am ready to trust that when I jump I will fly.

And on ScoutieGirl today there is a very insightful post by writer Elizabeth Howard about how to be a better (fill in the blank). Works for writer or artists or knitters or what have you. And I think that it really ties in well with these snippets from my Working Artist Initiative group. I found so much joy in reading this article that I wanted to share it with you. So much value. I encourage you to go over right now and have a read. Here is the comment that I left on that post:
When I am being my most authentic that is when the Universe opens up to me and what I am becoming as an artist expands exponentially! I am working in those slivers of time and space as well and mapping out my grand adventure. But the path that I take is completely mine alone and if I want companions on the journey I will ask for their help and seek out their wisdom.
So what do you think?
  • Do we have all we need to be a successful creative wrapped up inside us like a seed waiting for the right conditions? 
  • Are some people better at jumping off that ledge and trusting their wings will carry them than others? Or is it part of an environment of trust and understanding that allows you to have the strength to fly? How can you find the right conditions for your success?
  • Have you ever noticed the difference in your creative endeavors when you are being authentic and truly listening to your soul speaking versus just creating for the sake of creating?
  • How are these readings speaking to you today?
Do tell!

Enjoy the day!


rosebud101 said...

The readings and your comments hit the nail on the head for me. I do know that I have done things in the past to be boo'd and told that my work was far from anything good, that it wasn't anything to be appreciated, oh, yes, critics can be cruel at times. However, later I saw snippets of work that reflected what I had found in my creative spirit. I have learned to trust my feelings now, and go with what I have and the rest, well, I ignore the outer critics because I know what is in my soul, and it is amazing!

Pretty Things said...

You said... I am my own worst critic. And my inner critic is incompetent.

I completely feel this.

I'm trying to work through this but it's hard when other things in your world have cracks. It's like, when one thing is broken, I feel like everything is broken because everything I do and feel is so tightly wound together. Not sure how I could ever remove myself and "find a happy place". Wish I could.

mairedodd said...

albert einstein said as well 'once we accept our limits, we go beyond them.' ... pushing past limits, past pre/misconceptions of ourselves... i will be honest, i pretty much cannot make something if i am not connected to it... i put much of myself into any thing i am working on... best luck...
i think there comes a point where you just go for it... take the step past the point where most people stop... just keep at it...

Kristen said...

Oh Erin all I can say is WOW and Oh Yeah you said it Sista! You have a gift for saying how I sometimes feel (and sometimes that's a bit scary! ;)) We are our own worst critic and I think that is the only thing that drives us forward AND holds us back!

Off the Beadin' Path said...

Another "right-between-the-eyes" subject, Erin! You provided so much valuable information! Thank you for all of it, but little me is overwhelmed, as usual. In the 26 years that I was a piano teacher, so many adults told me they "had no musical ability", and I always said they would be surprised what they really have - if they gave it a try! That would apply to any creative endeavor, of course. When I started making jewelry, that same advice often was lost on myself! And BTW, your encouragement was instrumental more than you know!
On the "listening to your soul" versus "creating just for the sake of creating", I find a huge difference! Endorphins are bouncing when I just carry out an idea that's been sketched or just lurking around the corners of my brain! But a good Challenge or Bead Soup party is the best way to stretch out the creativity. I think we all agree that it's synergistic! Thanks for taking the time to do this post!


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