Jul 31, 2008 by Nancy Buschart | 0 Comments
July 19 was Artarama in Eagle River, Wisconsin. It is an annual one-day, invitation-only art fair of Northwoods creativity. Artarama brings out the best and the brightest. It is a whose-who of the art world in this part of the North. It's like going to a living museum where the artists are in-residence to display and describe their creative process.
They are all here!
- Bronze sculptor
- Carpenters-picture frames, lamps, furniture, wooden signs, and more
- Wooden bowl turners
- Jewelry makers
- Hand-hewn canoe maker
- Painters-acrylic, watercolor, mixed media
- Metal sculptor
- Antler carver
- Fishing pole creator
- Lamp shade painter
The photographers were outstanding. The man that had a photograph of a still-winged hummingbird drinking nectar caught my eye. I had just taken a series of hummingbird photos that were a total blur! Another photographer had a stunning photo of three perched eagles that he said he had taken in Alaska in winter -- at that time of year, the eagles are hungry and cluster together.
The jewelers -- one woman had stunning pendants of "picture jasper," a stone that she said no longer exists in nature. The exhibitor that gets the ‘most unique' award was the young couple that framed butterfly wings in sterling silver. This enterprising couple is engaged in a cooperative effort with a butterfly research station in South America. These butterflies live only a few days. When they die, they are sent to Wisconsin to be made into jewelry and sold to North Americans with part of the proceeds going back to the butterfly research station in South America. Another jeweler makes beautiful bobbles out of the glass that rolls onto shore along Lake Superior in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. She said that she walks the shore daily during the winter months, but not during the summer. It takes the violent waves of winter in the U.P. to bring these polished fragments of glass to this creative beachcomber.
One carver makes amazing things out of antlers. He carves and then paints eagle heads in the antler. I asked him to describe where he was when this idea first came to him. He said he was in a gas station in Wyoming when he learned that native Indians have been carving eagles in antlers for hundreds of years. He said he thinks he now does more eagle antler carvings than anyone else.
One furniture maker patiently, carefully strips the bark of birch trees and applies that bark to the surfaces of dressers, tables, headboards. Then she cuts small pieces of willow branch and applies these into shapes of leaves, loons, and more onto the birch bark surface. Hard to describe; magnificent to behold; a painstaking and love-laden artistic endeavor.
There were two thoughts that followed me through Artarama.
First, there really is no end to the creative process. Human beings will never come to the end of the possibilities of what can be done with the natural material around us combined with the God-given ingenuity and skill to make beauty out of what is available. We must expect and anticipate new things. We must guard and value creative endeavor in ourselves and in others.
Second, I was aware of an inclination toward a critical nature. Someone is always awarded "best of show" and the seasoned, sophisticated professionals, as well as the first-time beginners, are there to compete for these awards. When walking up and down the aisles where one potter after another is showing her wares, it is natural to prefer one style above another. But, from the standpoint of the artist, I am aware of how vulnerable one can be. Like the Lake Superior glass jeweler, most of these artists work their craft during the cold Northwoods winters. They immerse themselves in developing creative ideas and in bringing these ideas to life during the weeks and months of winter. Then, summer art shows are the time to try to sell these personal expressions of beauty and creativity.
Excited and nervous to share themselves and their art with the world, by 8:00 a.m. the morning of the show they set up their tent within the eight-by-ten foot space assigned to them. After each one is set up and ready for business, each artist begins to look around at the others gathered. Comparison begins. Comparing ourselves and our abilities to others is the single most deadly rabbit trail that anyone can follow. It kills the creative spirit within us and it devalues the unique creative gift and ability granted us by the Creator of creativity.
One conversation made this deadly comparison game clear at Artarama. A young woman had a small booth of her beaded jewelry. Although people were walking by, she was alone. As I stopped to view her work I acknowledged the beauty of her delicate and simple designs. She thanked me and lamented that because the trend seems to be "big" and "bulky," her work was not getting much attention. "Yes," I said, "but there will always be a place for delicate things like you create." As I left, I thanked her for her contribution to beauty.
Three final instructive thoughts:
- Be careful to not compare yourself to others. It is a trap of the ego and it leads to death in the soul and to the creative instinct within.
- Guard the creative spirit in others. We do violence to this vulnerable region of the soul when criticism devalues what is good in another.
- Nourish the creative spirit within yourself. The Creator of the universe designed each of us with unique gifts and abilities. To neglect these means that we are experiencing less than God designed us to be.
The Three Questions for today-
Who is God?
Creator, and author of human creativity
Who am I?
How am I living?
Lord, let me be all that you created me to be
Talk to me about your own creative process. I'd love to hear from you.
©2008 Vine, Vision & Voice
Nancy R. Buschart