An Active Witness

Note: The following post relates to the project requirements for my Foundations in Creativity class. Originally posted to the creativity blog on October 22, 2015.

“‘The artist’s job is to be a witness to his time in history.’ —Happy birthday to American painter, printmaker, designer, and experimental artist Robert Rauschenberg.” The Metropolitan Museum of Art on Facebook, October 22, 2015.

The idea that an artist is a witness really resonates with me. I write because I can’t remember. I write as a witness to myself and whomever reads my blogs ( and

Music has an incredible way of bringing me back to exactly where I was and what I was feeling at a given time. I can’t normally recall much of my past but when I hear one of my songs, I can remember many things that were happening when I wrote it. There are many songs that capture the time in which they were written so perfectly. A few, not mine, of course: Imagine, Smells like Teen Spirit, Head Like a Hole, Caught a Light Sneeze, Every Day is Halloween, Lean on Me… Strangely, no pop songs, which are like the junk food of music in my opinion.

Visual art is sort of cheating, as you get an actual picture and you need less imagination, except abstract of course. When faced with abstract art, my brain wants to figure it out and not remember anything. But, when I’ve wanted to reproduce historic clothing, the art museum is the first place I go, virtually or in person. And, certainly, there is nothing better than walking around in a period home or building to put yourself in that time. The fashion and architecture transport you.

I think there is probably a fair amount of going with the status quo flow. People wake up, go to work, maybe relax a little with mindless endeavors, and go to sleep, only to repeat the process day-in and day-out. Creativity motivates us to stop and consider being less passive and more of an active witness to what is going on around us and capturing what we see and feel in something, e.g. art, music, literature, fashion, architecture, etc.

Today I didn’t create anything but I did compare my normal motivation for being creative to the motivation behind this creativity project and contemplate the difference. Normally, much of my creativity comes through hobbies, especially since I’m no longer a designer by profession. This project is forcing me to wrangle my creative spirit in and try to produce daily. In some ways, I feel more receptive to inspiration because I am actively seeking instigation to creativity. In other ways, I feel burdened with the obligation to produce without the benefit of a client making demands.

Source: “Earth Day – 22 April” by Robert Rauschenberg, 1970. Retrieved from


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s