Apollo Dancing with the Muses by Francesco Bartolozzi (1725-1815)
The Muses are an ancient concept: a divine goddess of Greek myth that fills humanity with artistic inspiration. What I love about the concept is that the Muse does not discriminate. Some unexplainable creative inspiration can visit both the richest and the poorest of us. From the most powerful to the most insignificant, from the charismatic to the ordinary, from the interesting to the annoying, from the saint to the criminal: we are all voices, all potential mouthpieces for some unexplainable and mysterious creative source.
Our inner Muse speaks to us all in unique places. People, places, dreams, fears, relationships, hopes, all have the ability to inspire us in completely different ways. When I was fifteen, my family made a big decision to pack up the kids and move to a small town frozen in time on the Oregon coast. I was a typical gawky teenager (with braces recently removed!) with all of the insecurities, self-doubts, and emotional whirlwinds that are a part of the youthful package. I remember that first day in a new high school, sitting bewildered in a cold and crowded cafeteria: entirely new, entirely self-conscious, entirely alone.
It wasn’t long before I got my feelings hurt: some popular girl said my hair was frizzy (which it was!) and the smallest most insignificant things could cut deep. But, strangely enough, it was at this time that my creative output skyrocketed.
At the time when I felt the most alone, the most vulnerable, it was as if the world became more alive. The forests and ocean seemed like magical places where anything could happen, the wonders of the natural world revealed themselves in all their color and creativity.
In the midst of turbulent teenage emotions, like a girl possessed- I turned everything I could find into art. Beachcombing, wandering through the forest, gathering anything I could that represented my new environment – I would paint, build, nail, glue, and sew the artifacts of my environment and emotional life to create anything I could
Though I had been making art long before my high school years- what clicked in my creative experience was that our Muse can be found in any situation- positive or negative- in the light and in the dark- in beautiful places and also in the ordinary. Mining our emotions, our experiences and our daily lives for inspiration is what gives our creativity its flavor. This realization has stuck with me over time and been such an important part of how I find inspiration and how I make art.