Cycles in creativity

Cycles in creativity
Doug Gonzalez - 03/21/2024
Do you recall your first creative experience? Did you make small-scale murals on the walls of your bedroom with crayons? Or maybe you drew scribbles on a piece of paper that represented your family? I have the memory of smearing paint on a sheet of paper clipped to a Fisher-Price easel. My parents bought it for me when I was a toddler, and I recall it having little paint tubes with the primary colors of blue, yellow and red. If there were brushes, I didn’t use them. I must have thought, “Brushes are so 1986! Let’s use our fingers to make something new and fresh!”
 
I also remember making my first creative “discovery.” I distinctly recall being in kindergarten and discovering that coloring on top of another sheet of paper transferred what was underneath to the page on top. I hopped up from my little chair and dashed to the teacher to show her. She was unimpressed with the drawing – and I was unimpressed with her reaction. How was I to know that this rubbing technique was already widely known? But the bug to make and discover something new stuck.
 
As someone who now dabbles in different art mediums, I am always sort of amazed when new content is generated. In fact, it’s almost fantastical how persistently humans can create. Even if I’m feeling tired or uninspired, ideas still seem to find their way out. I often wonder, “Is this the day that my creative well is going to run dry?” But instead, there are bits of creativity that find their way to the surface­­. Sometimes it’s as trivial as finding a new outfit within your closet, while other times it’s as complex as researching and putting together an academic paper.
I’ve begun to wonder if art is not merely something that comes to life in our world. I think it is a byproduct of life – the way dreaming is a byproduct of sleeping. We create and make art while we process, react to and try to understand our existence in this world.
 
However, sharing what we create can often be a vulnerable experience. Like dreaming, it is very personal and exists only within our thoughts until we bring it into existence. It is also makes us feel vulnerable because we have no way of controlling the energy it attracts when we send it off into the world. In fact, this might be both the most worrisome and fulfilling aspect of making art; having it be experienced by others. I feel that the creator’s energy can become trapped during this part, inhibiting the “cycle” needed for healthy regeneration of artistic spirit. I often feel this way about my own drag and live performances. But maybe the energy does not come back in the way I expect it to. When an animal decomposes, it doesn’t come back as the animal. It becomes the nutrients used to create new life.
 
Sharing this thought with my Diné Poetics class, my professor suggested the need for protection. I thought, “If I could imagine a prayer that would protect me, what might that look like? What might I use from my life experience as the son of a Catholic man and a traditional Diné woman to create a world of protection for myself?” This is that poem, which I wrote specifically for the medium of drag:
 
“Drag Protection Prayer”
 
O, Mother of the House of All that is Queer,
Hear my prayer
 
Thank you for letting me serve the community,
While serving looks.
Whether I’m performing for one
Or for many
 
I ask for the conditions to be right
So that the dollars may rain in plenty.
 Give me the endurance to keep on too tight of heels. And give me the clarity to find my way home safely.
 
O, Mother of the House of Style,
Please protect my fellow performers and I
From wigs sliding back
And from lipstick-stained teeth
 
O, Mother of the House of Stage and Lights,
Please protect my fellow performers and I
From forgetting the lyrics
And from forgetting to be present.
 
O, Mother of the House of Self-Love,
Please protect my fellow performers and I
From those self-degrading thoughts,
Hidden in our heads like the blade in a sheath.
 
O, Mother of the House of Safety,
Please protect my fellow performers and I
From those that seek to harm us
Whether it be to our art or to our bodies.
 
O, Mother of the House of All that is Queer,
Hear my prayer
 
Help us give our all,
But help keep our all near us, safe.
And when our all returns,
Help it return as something better than before
As something Holy, and wholly us.
 
Starting in April, you can hear this poem read aloud on KDUR as part of National Poetry Month. You can also find my Diné Poetics classmates and I reading several of our own poems aloud at Maria’s Bookshop for its second annual Poetry Reading on Sun., April 14, from 4-6 p.m.
 
 

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