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Combating Apathy in the Arts

by Caroline Laird

If you’re an artist of any kind, you know how much enthusiasm is poured into your craft; art can take all your energy, and the final product is often phenomenal. Unfortunately, it’s common to hit a point where you can’t put the same level of passion into your creations, and you may grow apathetic in a field you love, which makes it increasingly difficult to return to art. How do you combat losing your passion?

One outlook to consider is that creativity is a mindset, not a talent. According to Elkhonon Goldberg in his book Creativity: The Human Brain in the Age of Innovation, numerous studies have been done to determine if creativity is genetic, with only moderately correlating results between genes and creativity. While divergent thinking has been seen to sometimes correlate to dopamine receptor density in the brain, whether this correlation is direct or inverse is still varying to researchers, and thus no study has truly connected creativity to genetics in a convincing manner, according to Alina Cohen in her article "Is Creativity in Your DNA?". In short, anyone has the ability to think more creatively, and genetics are not a hindrance! Approaching creativity with an entrepreneurial mindset, which entails looking at everything as an opportunity and making the most of them, can help with the motivation needed to create.

One important mindset piece to try to tear down is to ignore your fear of the first step when returning to art. My ballet teacher once told me that after a break from dancing, the most difficult part was putting tights back on; once you’re in the studio again, everything is easier. I apply this same concept to my visual art when I feel stuck. This means I will assign myself the task of putting a pencil to the paper and moving my wrist. Though what I make during that time may not be as polished as usual, the first step back into art is often the most difficult one, and putting a pencil on paper eliminates a previous barrier.

Another issue for many people feeling uncreative is the fear of judgment. This is one of the fears that most often inhibits creativity, as everyone is scared that others will see them as untalented or weird. The reality is that we are usually our harshest critics. One way to approach a fear of being judged is to initiate the creation session with the mindset that all ideas are valid. When everyone collectively decides to consider wild ideas and hold their judgment, then breakthroughs can be found in the ones usually deemed too absurd. This mindset can apply for individuals as well as groups, and though it may not seem like acceptance would make a big difference, just flipping the mindset can open so many doors.

Overall, thinking entrepreneurially and creatively can feel like a massive struggle, especially if your heart isn’t in it as it once was, but skills can be fostered in anyone. Tearing down barriers like judgment and the first step can help remind you how it feels to be creative and allows you to return to art without as much fear.

Caroline Laird is a sophomore from Framingham, Massachusetts, and she has an Arts Management major with minors in Creative Writing and Digital Marketing at Miami University. She considers herself an artist in many regards, including visual arts, dance, and writing. Currently, she is practicing her Arts Management skills through a public relations position for a dance-centered student organization, and after graduation, she hopes to go into marketing for an arts organization.


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