Today is International Artist Day, which started in 2004 to honor the contributions that artists make to society. What is your definition of an artist? Do you consider yourself to be an artist?
Like most people, you probably associate the word “artist” with the visual arts. You might think of Pablo Picasso or Auguste Rodin. I’m here to tell you that it’s time to let go of that limiting belief and expand your definition of what an artist is. Artists come in all varieties. In my opinion, it’s really all about your unique connection to Divine Inspiration that makes you an artist. Your creative thoughts are like a mystical unseen entity floating about just beyond your physical reach, delivering instructions to you (sometimes it seems in a foreign language) through the extremely complex network of your nervous system. When you learn how to develop a relationship with this entity, you are able to manifest art in the real physical world… making you an artist! Have you heard the term “art as life” before? That’s pretty much where I’m going with this…
So what exactly is this unseen middle-man of creative force? The Ancient Greeks called it the muse. The concept of the muse goes back as far as the 7th century BC as described in Hesiod’s Theogony, an epic poem about the genealogy of the Greek Gods. The story of the muses is that they were the nine daughters of Zeus (the King of all the gods) and Mnemosyne (memory). Mnemosyne was the daughter of Uranus (sky) and Gaia (earth). The muses were associated with inspiration and human creation. They were connected to poetry, song, dance, love, comedy, history, legend, astronomy and tragedy. Not one of them was specifically identified with the visual arts. Actually, the ancient Greeks had little respect for the people we commonly consider artists today. Painters and sculptors were regarded as manual laborers and often were slaves.
To better understand this, you have to consider the culture of the Ancient Greeks. They were tinkering with very powerful creative thoughts about democracy. It greatly influenced their culture. They valued gathering together and the sharing of ideas. They built large spaces for people to gather in: temples, courthouses, and stadiums. Amphitheatres were constructed in every major city. These structures gave the people a place to gather for information exchange but also to be entertained. The performance arts thrived. People weren’t interested in gathering together to watch a sculptor hammer out another statue or watch a painter painstakingly decorate a vase. They wanted to be entertained! The influence of this behavior on their culture defined the roles of their artists and likewise of their muses. This is why the muses represented the inspirational source of the performing arts: epics and tragedies, song and dance, and even comedy!
Think for a moment now about your own culture; the culture that represents your day-to-day life experience. What do you value? How are you entertained? What inspires you? Don’t feel limited by anyone else’s definition of what art is.
Here’s another concept to throw into the pot. The word museum is derived from the word muse, and to me that conjures up a more fitting connection. When you think about museums a whole range of thoughts come to mind. Perhaps, like me, you think of something like the Smithsonian Institution. There is a museum out there for every cultural category. From the Enola Gay to Kermit the Frog the word museum encompasses the full range of human creation. There is nothing unworthy of a museum these days, encompassing an endless scope of religion, history, science, business, literature, popular culture, and even the visual arts, too!
Similarly, I have a fairly broad definition of what an artist is. My definition of an artist is simply “someone who more than dabbles in creating.” Creating can be anything! If the muses are responsible for inspiration and human creation, how do they influence your personal culture? Imagine if you were a muse. What would you be the inspirational source of?
Let’s revisit the question: Do you consider yourself to be an artist?
For your Creating Exercise today, I want you to complete this sentence:
“I am an artist. I create ____________________.”
Fill in the blank with what makes your heart soar. What is the medium of your unique expression in this life? What is the experience that you have the ability to create when you are at your best? Consider your cultural influences. What is important to you?
Today I honor you, dear artist, for the contributions you make to society through your creating.
Please share your statements in the comments below. I’d love to know what kind of artist you are. If you want to learn more about how to mingle with your muses, ask me about my upcoming 2016 Creating Party!
Your Creativity Coach,
Bonnie Kelso is the creator of The ABCs of Conscious Creating. She uses energy healing and creating exercises to connect people to their higher “creative” selves. For more information about her services read about her ACCESS! program or to schedule a consultation please contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Are you ready to vitalize your creative life?