Art Term Tuesday: Inspiration

Kaitlin Binkley, Marketing Coordinator

“I’m going to write that blog post today!” “I’ll get that post to you tomorrow for you to read over, promise!” “When is that post supposed to go live? I’ll get it to you soon!”

These are the excuses Katy has heard from me over the past few weeks now as I struggled to write this week’s Art Term Tuesday. I kept getting distracted; I had other duties, and I just plain wasn’t inspired! And so, this week’s term was decided!

Inspiration seems to come from nowhere, strikes with ferocity, and leaves just as quickly. Creatives have to be disciplined to ride the waves of inspiration that flow through them and push through the art block valley to get to the next peak of creativity. Professionals can’t let a day go by without creating and can’t use the excuse, “I’m not inspired”, when there is a deadline looming and costly events planned. Hard work is what gets them through the day, a dedication to the job and knowing that one thing finished is better than five things started.

The ancient Greeks thought inspiration came from the nine muses (Clio, Eurerpe, Thalia, Melpomeni, Terpsichere, Erato, Polymnia, Ourania, and Calliope), a gift to man to always be reaching for better art, literature, poetry, or music. Christianity sees inspiration as a gift from the Holy Spirit and the word of God, though filtered through human minds. Later interpretations in the 1800s claim that inspiration is the random but natural association of ideas in a mind, which can be natural or taught. Freud thought inspiration came from deep psychological battles or childhood trauma that was left buried in the unconscious. Modern ideas of inspiration mostly say it is a solely internal experience and beyond control. A Japanese study showed that imitation can drive creativity, even with experts. Pablo Picasso was known as a trained naturalistic painter before he veered sharply into cubism. Can you break the rules if you don’t know they’re there, especially the unspoken ones? Careful study reveals more threads of ideas, and more threads means more opportunities for cross-referencing without conscious thought; this heightens the chances for flashes of understanding, clairvoyance, and, ultimately, inspiration!

In the 2020 Scholastic Art & Writing Awards exhibition, many of the students used their art to express their views on society and culture. Some reference previous masterworks or famous scenes from film and television. Drawings from photographs, paintings from a still life, photographs that recreate scenes from books; all of these instances of inspiration show that the term is as fluid as the art it produces!

Alyvia Luong’s photograph, The Breakthrough, and Martin Mbuguah’s painting, a marriage with evil share a few similarities. It is probably not hard to see that these two artists collaborated and were inspired by each other to make their Gold Key artworks.

A photograph of a girl with long, blonde hair in a field. Dressed in a blue dress and white and black striped socks, she emerges from a frame.
What do you think photographer Alexa Ehle was inspired by? Photo courtesy of Alexa Ehle.

It’s not hard to imagine what pop culture reference Gold Key photographer Alexa Ehle was inspired by when she created this photograph, Alice. How has she taken the story by Lewis Carroll and made it her own?

Come visit the 2020 Scholastic Art & Writing Awards exhibition, on display through April 11th, to see what inspired our teen artists and writers to create this year!

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