Find Your Art
In Rowan County, opportunities abound for you to immerse yourself in art. But have you ever wanted to create your own art? Have you ever wondered how?
There are many ways in, but an effective one that each of us can access is mindset. Believe that you are an artist. Believe that everyone is! Know that you’re an artist even before you sketch an idea or feel the way a brush moves across a canvas.
Pay attention to the artistic habits that you have. The things that you do naturally that bring beauty or tranquility to a space. Do you arrange the pillows on your bed just so? Or pour a glass of wine with a certain twist of the wrist? Or grill a steak to perfection atop a fiery bed of charcoal? This is the process of making art. Idea, action, assessment, adjustment. And, of course, persistence!
Utilize the resources at your fingertips. Ask questions, learn from experts, watch tutorials and read books. I recommend The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. Written in 1992, this tome feels timeless. Cameron gives tips for discovering anything in the way of connection, creation, abundance, or power. The margins are dotted with quotations—or invitations—from other artists, philosophers, and leaders. These surprise and delight and keep me thinking hours after I’ve closed the pages!
Be open to inspiration in both your favorite sources and in unlikely places. For each person this is different. Writers tend to move me most. Poets weave more than words. They move entire universes, bringing them into being. Reading poetry by Rumi takes me somewhere I often cannot go on my own. But just the same, I can be moved beyond words by a mere patch of clover.
Look for clues. Art has a way of finding us. It knocks until we answer. Be still and breathe. What finds you? Rumi writes, “As you start to walk on the way, the way appears.”
Remember, ART IS NOT JUST VISUAL. It is movement, music, the weaving together of words, ideas, objects. It is connections of all kinds.
Enroll in classes to deepen your understanding of art. Meet friends, and discuss your artistic endeavors. Don’t be shy to speak up, share, ask questions! Your art conveys who you are, how you see life, what you wonder and wish.
Remember: You are artist. Consider always: How do you create beauty? Tell stories? Transmute pain? Where do you want your art to take you?
Two Rowan County artists invited me into their worlds of music and clay in order to shed light on the ways they immerse themselves in artistic flow. I present their words…without interruption or rearrangement from me. I know that the less I touch what is already excellent, the better it will convey. This is true in everything.
Earl B. Givens, Jr. is Dean of Learning Resources & Special Assistant to the President for Leadership Development at Catawba College. He is also on the Board of Directors for Waterworks Visual Arts Center. Earl has many artistic talents, including helping leaders see potential and achieve excellence in their organizations. Earl’s favorite form of art? Music. He finds pianos across campus at Catawba. He sits. He surveys. And he opens portals of tranquility with his fingertips. After showing me, Earl answered my questions.
What is art? I believe art is the highest form of self-expression. Art transcends socioeconomic status, language, race, and gender to ignite within the human spirit a sense of freedom through expression.
What does it mean to create? Creation to me means freedom and connection. Whenever I sit at the piano I am doing something new and fresh based on how I am feeling on that day. The best part about the creative process is that it’s special. It is during this time that I learn more about myself than I do about the music. Creation comes from depth of an individual and is expressed through their mode of delivery. My relationship with Christ allows me to create and share music that touches and connects people in a special way. I have found that as I have continued to grow and go deeper in Christ, the creative process and expression have become more impactful for me and the listeners of my music.
Talk about what it means to be moved by something or someone. It’s all about connection, when we say something moved me, what I think we are saying is that it connected with me. To be moved is to experience a connection far deeper than one has felt before.
How do you most connect with music? By feeling the vibrations, hearing the notes, touching the key beneath fingertips, notes on a page? Or some other way? Music is a language. It’s how I express my innermost feelings and is an expression of the deepest parts of me. The mood and tonality that you hear in my music is the piano speaking a language for me that spoken words cannot express. For me each time I play I am speaking a language to my God that the English language is unable to properly convey. It is through this expression of love that the connection happens from Christ to me and then through the music.
What would you tell people who are looking for something like this? Don’t be afraid, while I’ve been a musician since the 4th grade, I only started playing the piano 10 years ago at age 30. It’s never too late to discover yourself. Be true to who you are and take a bold step in the direction of true self-expression through the arts. You are worth it!
Scott Cline, Senior Visual Designer at Miller Davis concurs. I spoke to Scott at his studio one evening as lightning bugs gathered in the grasses nearby.
Q: What would you tell artists who don’t yet recognize who they are?
A: Don’t be afraid to try. Don’t worry about what other people think. If you have the eye and feel for art it will work its way out.
I’ve come across the attitude occasionally that without some kind of degree that you are less of an artist or that your work is of less value. Don’t let that discourage you. If you’re self-taught that’s something to be proud of.
Q: When did you know you were an artist?
A: I used to draw a lot as a child, but I didn’t really begin to think of myself as an artist until high school. I had a really great art teacher who was very supportive and encouraging, but kinda let you do your own thing and figure out what you were good at.
Her class was the first time I tried a pottery wheel. I was horrible at it, but it was fun. It was almost 20 years before I got back around to trying it again, but it has always been in the back of my mind that one day I would do it again.
I decided that I would give graphic design a try my senior year. After taking a couple of years playing music and being in bands I went to community college and got an Associate in Advertising & Graphic Design. It’s been my day job since 2000.
Q: Where are you taking your art next?
A: I’ve been distracted with old cars and beat up campers lately. My first step is to finish getting all the parts and tools out of my studio so I can throw again. I’ve been jotting down ideas and making sketches, so I have a lot of things to create. Generally, when I take a short break I come back with new ideas and a fresh outlook.
I’d like to make a push for getting my work out more. I’ve started to build a website, and will eventually get out on Instagram (kicking and screaming).
I’ll ask you, Reader, where are you taking your art next? Do not worry if you are not yet sure. Rumi offers this assurance, “What you seek is seeking you.”
Earl can be found most magically making music at pianos around Catawba and beyond. Scott’s work is available at the Waterworks Museum Store in downtown Salisbury, as well as on his forthcoming website www.ceramicoddities.com.
Art is one of Rowan County’s brightest gems. The Rowan Arts Council’s mission is to encourage and support artists in all forms with grants for their projects.
The pandemic has been a challenge for the group, but their fall grant cycle is here, with submissions due Nov. 1.
This year’s concert on Sept. 11, will “Remember, Recognize and Rejoice,” remembering the 20th anniversary of the 9-11 attacks, recognizing all the health care workers “who have so arduously fought the pandemic, and rejoicing over the opening of Bell Tower Green,” says Maestro David Hagy, who will conduct the performance, now in its 17th year.