search  current discussion  categories  teaching 

talent and creativity

updated tue 30 apr 96


Eleanora Eden on sat 20 apr 96

I do appreciate the eloquent posts recently on this apparently troubling
topic. Especially Jane's terrific story about her talented dad. I also
had a similarly talented dad, amazingly creative and inventive and
diligent. Near the end of his life he wrote a letter to my daughter
describing his being awarded the first prize in a city-wide art contest
in New York City must have been about 1920. It seems he did a chalk
drawing on the sidewalks that was so big he had to look at it from the
top of the tenement building. At the age of 6.

So having inherited a great gob of talent I am in agreement with the
observations that it is not what you have but what you do with it that
counts. And also that it does make a difference.

I think the discussion centers around whether or not everybody has a right
to come to the party with or without "natural gifts". It makes me think
of the Homo Articulus or whatever it was called we were reading awhile back.
In that creative expression is what makes humans human of course
everybody has a right.

I can't help observing that during the discussion of academia earlier
this year the observation I think quite accurate was made several times
that getting and keeping a teaching job can have nothing to do with artistic
talent. So then the vision of a teacher who maybe sees him/herself
as having gotten there despite lack of talent evaluating the value of talent
in the students gets kind of complicated.

I wonder how much this is an issue of competition. If we perceive that
there is enough space for us all then deciding who has talent and who
doesn't maybe isn't so important.

As for the nakedness of bringing pencil to the empty sheet of paper, when
I was teaching highschool art I made a point of avoiding this
confrontation by using any possible technique as an interface,
woodprints, batiks, etc. so that the kids wouldn't spend their energy
shrinking from the empty page. I found this worked very well.

As for creativity, lately I see that as a muscle that needs to be
exercised properly or it doesn't stay in shape. Not exactly "no pain no
gain", but the same idea that stretching and regular use are required.
For me I need an idea that stokes my fires, space/time without lots of
interruptions and demands, physical energy (right now with a broken foot
and using all my energy to work the crutches that seems like the tallest
order), and some kind of goal.


Eleanora Eden 802 869-2003
Paradise Hill
Bellows Falls, VT 05101