Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Enthusiasm and Inspiration

Sue Weir, New Zealand. Her work is featured here: 

The enthusiam with which people have embraced this international tapestry project/installation Fate, Destiny and Self Determination/le sort, le destin et l'auto-determination, has exceeded my expectations. More shapes continue to come in from all over the world, the bulk of them are woven tapestry. What is this thing called Enthusiasm? Originally it referred to inspiration or possession by a divine energy (eg God ). In the first English dictionary, enthusiasm was defined as a "vain belief of private revelation". The contemporary meaning of enthusiasm refers more to enjoyment, interest or me a somewhat watered down description of what enthusiasm actually feels like. 
Karen Stevens Australia
Centuries ago, an enthusiast was a person considered to be possessed by a god. It was and still is also used interchangeably with the word Inspiration. At one time it also referred to intense religious fervour, eg a Syrian set of the 4th century were identified as Enthusiasts, who believed that through constant prayer, "ascetic practices and contemplation, man could become inspired by the Holy Spirit". During the 18th century the British employed the term pejoratively for any group that advocated for political or religious causes publicly.
Karen Stevens Australia. Crocheted. Felted.
The Greeks believed that inspiration was equivalent to enthusiasm, which was obtained from the Muses and the Gods. The Norse, Hebrews and Christians, believed that inspiration and enthusiasm was derived from the divine elements and forces. This belief was persistent even in the 18th century with the writings of the philosopher John Locke and Romantic poets (Coleridge and Shelley) who believed that the poets soul was more receptive and attuned to the divine and mystical forces made evident through the results of their inspiration and enthusiasm. That one is suddenly transported beyond one's own mind, and connecting to a force, visions, thoughts, ideas that seem to manifest inexplicably and seems to lift one up above the small and the mundane of everyday life,  is a constant denominator of what it is to be inspired and feel enthusiastic, resembling a religious fervour. That one obtains a 'revelation' also ties it to this spiritual and religious experience.  In many definitions of inspiration over the centuries, it also considered to be a gift that something greater than ourselves gives us.
Karen Stevens Australia. Crocheted.
By the 18th century psychology began to emerge from philosophy with the writings of John Locke who described inspiration as being "a somewhat random but wholly natural association of ideas and sudden unison of thought." He realized that people became practiced in thinking a certain way that enabled them to make connections of what appeared to be disparate things, in other words, hone their abilities at creative thinking, which accounted for greater and lesser insight and inspiration in artists.
Karen Stevens Australia. Felted.
I was surprised to discover that some people think that being creative, inspiration and enthusiasm is only available to a person with a more leisurely life, that is to say that they have no concerns or constraints on their financial situation. Creativity is not selective that way, though, admittedly, it can constrain to what extent one can engage with it, either by restricting one's ability to purchase required equipment and materials, to even limiting the amount of time one can give over to attending to it and producing a certain quality or quantity of work. Given that situation, and having observed what is exhibited in galleries (public and commercial) it does make me wonder if some of our societal systems favour the creative endeavours of those who have financial means. Those with more financial means certainly will have more advantages in that regard. That might be so, but for those who must be creative and live to be inspired and feel enthusiastic each morning when they get up, financial obligation is not an obstacle, even if it means living in a more limited way in other areas of ones life.
Karen Stevens, Austraila. Crochet.

Lori Laberge, NC USA website:

UNTITLED/UNJURIED: small format tapestry 2014 

July 8 - August 8, 2014 
URI Feinstein Providence Campus Gallery, Providence, RI
The deadline for entry, which is only your intent to participate, is January 31, 2014. The tapestry is not due until March 31, 2014.Exhibition informationOnline entryDownload an entry form for mailing.  Questions? Email Exhibition Chair: Jan Austin.

Interweaving Cultures
Peter Gray Museum of Art
CUC Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco
November 22, 2013 - January 2014

ATB 10 
Visions Art Museum
May 2 - July 20, 2014 
Opening reception May 10, 2015
San Diego, CA

Kent State University Museum
September 25, 2014 - January 4, 2015  
Opening reception September 25, 2014
Kent, OH

February 6 - April 18, 2015 
Opening reception February 6, 2015
Omaha, NE

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