Throughout history, in darker days than these, artists crafted utilitarian objects and produced individuated works of art because they were driven by the desire to create, and to communicate regardless of their circumstances. Creativity by its very nature has the potential to flourish and inspire even in the midst of difficult and uncertain times. Certainly the economic challenges that the world in general (and the United States of America in particular) has been experiencing for the past couple of years have had some effect on everyone. Within our society, certain segments of the population have felt the effects of the tightening markets much more profoundly than others, which forces an ever-increasing number of our fellow citizens to live on less, as they struggle to decide which daily necessities they’ll do without. Food, shelter, and security become the ultimate focus. All too often creativity is swept aside.
I’m not exactly sure where Abraham Maslow would have located art or the creative process on his hierarchy of needs, but the longer I live the more I try to advocate for the inclusion of art and creativity in our daily lives regardless of the impending circumstances. When I consider the depth and the expansive opportunities that art and creativity can inspire in individuals as well as in communities I’m made aware that creative expression – especially rooted in a desire to be generative – will continue to benefit humanity. It is precisely during difficult times that creativity should be embraced and encouraged because it is creativity that will illuminate potentially new viewpoints, which may lead to valuable alternatives in problem solving. Remember MacGyver? Okay, so not a great art example, but he was pretty darn creative in the midst of seemingly hopeless situations!
During the past few years a great many people within the art world have felt the reverberations from the shaky economy. Museums are searching for new ways to operate more effectively as conventional sources of funding are drying up or disappearing altogether, and as cities are experiencing large numbers of gallery closures, artists are actively trying to figure out how to maintain an audience for their work. Especially at the business level artists are being forced to think creatively in order to endure. Thankfully, as a species we are resilient and have an innate desire to not only survive but to thrive. So, as we all consider our possibilities let’s be sure to remember to carry along copious amounts of duct tape and a Swiss Army knife so we can creatively MacGyver our way through the day-to-day. Creativity is an important key to unlocking the door to an exciting future.