Posted by: Liz Massey | March 29, 2008

Of Peeps and Folk Art

I had a couple of reminders this week of one of my core beliefs about the creative process: that everyone, no matter their level of training or education, can be creative, if properly motivated.

For some, “motivation” comes in the form of a challenge and the chance at fame, however fleeting. The Washington Post challenged readers to create dioramas using that perennial Easter candy favorite, Peeps.

The result? An outpouring of marshmallow-influenced expression–there were dioramas based on King Tut’s tomb, Andy Warhol’s Pop (oh, Peep?) Art, U2 in concert, Olympic diving competitions and much, much more.  Not only did the backgrounds for the dioramas take effort and creativity to assemble, molding the Peeps into the appropriate characters became an art in itself–my favorite is the scene based on the annual running of the bulls at Pamplona, Spain, in which the bulls have banana Runts for horns. Absolutely hilarious–and enjoyably creative!

Also, my old friend Midwest Rock Lobster took a trip with his daughters recently to see the Garden of Earthly Delights in Lucas, Kansas, and stumbled upon (and photographed) an incredible trove of rural folk art. I mean, this isn’t the I-didn’t-have-enough-money-for-paint-so-I-ground-up-some-bricks kind of folk art, it’s a glorious celebration of found materials, social commentary and the artists’ own warped imaginations.

Both sets of artists demonstrate the power of the creative impulse. Certainly, training has many benefits for an artist who wants to further his or her abilities, and deliberate practice is one of the more certain paths to creative mastery. But it’s displays such as these two that renew my faith that creativity is one of our inborn renewable resources, one that is easily stimulated and cultivated through a little encouragement.

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