March 11, 2021
The Creative Process — a Tool for Individual and Collective Transformation
Art has a message for us. It says: care, grow, develop, adapt, overcome, nurture, protect, foster, cherish. It says: your reality is spiritual. It says: achieve your full humanness. It invites us to laugh, reflect, cry, strive, persevere. It says rejoice! Above all, it says to us: be! We cannot turn our backs on art. Art heals….
- Roger White, from Bring Chocolate: Advice from a Poet
In the Big Ideas talk given by arts and humanities professor, writer and self-professed dabbler in the arts on December 18, 2020, Anne Gordon Perry tackled the intangible nature of creativity by both regaling our senses with tangible and beautiful examples drawn from her students, artists (including her own work) and community arts initiatives, while inspiring our spirits with thoughtful quotes drawn from the Bahá’í writings, from author-teacher Julia Cameron (from her book The Artist’s Way), and of course, from Bahá’í poet Roger White. To set the mood for Anne’s talk, Joyce Litoff played a rousing French-Canadian ballad, Vive l’amour, on her accordion.
Anne asked a lot of questions: Where do creativity and inspiration come from? What happens when we actualize our talents, harness our imaginations, and share with others the fruits of our creativity? How will cultivating our interest in and love for the arts contribute to changes in society and our own engagement with public discourse? What can we learn about resilience, transformation and adaptation as we look at arts created during the pandemic? How can we restore a sense of reverence in the world through the arts?
In answering these questions, where else would a talk on creativity and inspiration begin than with the Creator of all that is, visible and invisible: “Every created thing is but a door leading unto His knowledge, a sign of his sovereignty, a revelation of His name, a symbol of His majesty, a token of His power, a means of admittance into His straight path…” According to author/teacher Julia Cameron, we too must not only create but give back to God what God has given us. Anne gave examples taken from all the arts – literature, drama, music and theatre with a strong emphasis in the visual arts, the easiest way to showcase artistic output in less than an hour. She presented an astonishing number of individual and community projects of all types, including tableaux vivants drawn from famous paintings enacted by Anne’s students designed to bring out their creativity and imagination, logo design and staircase art from around the world.