When I was in college and debating between being a psychology major and minor, one of the areas of study that interested me was the effect surroundings have on creativity, emotion, and learning. There are places that are inherently creative, ones where our minds can’t help but wander, and ones that immediately make us feel angry. As I began hypothesizing I thought about the different factors: visual make-up, personal connection, cultural symbolism.
While this still interests me greatly, when I decided to make psychology my minor and pick up two art forms as my double major, I chose to address this question in reality rather than within the settings of a psychological test. Although my quantifiable outcome may not be as persuasive, I believe that through studying places that bring specific emotions, particularly creativity, I will be able to recreate them in a directed setting.
Currently, I’m sitting in the studio where I took my first steps as a visual artist and created my first series of paintings. I can see the paint spots on the floor from my brush and the beads scattered around the studio from my drawing. As soon as I step inside the glass doors of what was for four years my creative center. my minds starts to whirl. I am here now not to create my own work, but to support my closest friend as she does hers, and yet my mind fills itself with possibilities.
Much of my inspiration for starting a community art center comes from this space. It is a giant room on the third floor of the art building with a high yellow ceiling and tall windows with swiveling planks of wood that serve as shades. Apparently, it used to be a gym.
There are no walls in this space except for the four that create its outer limits. Instead, stacked cubbies built together and placed on wheels create barriers less than half the height of the room which turn this wide open space into a maze of sorts. It was a maze that I memorized, down to every detail, during my time as a college student.
Because the space is open, noises drift uninterrupted throughout. Classes overlap, music blends together, the pounding of hammers and the harsh click of staple guns echo throughout. A constant flow of creativity twines itself through the false cubby-walls, the echo of years upon years of inspiration.
When I was creating my art in this room, discovering who I was and who I wanted to be, I could look up from my canvas to whoever else was in the room and ask their opinion or just how they were. We were a community, a support system, one that I know lives on without me in it. Of course there were aggravations and irritations, painter’s block and spilled paint, but in the end all of this gets absorbed into the greater creativity atmosphere.
This atmosphere is what I aim to capture, what I want to make available to those who didn’t or don’t have the money to find it in a college setting, who did have the money but wouldn’t spend it on art, who had it and had to leave it after four wondrous years, to everyone who cares to experience it. Sometimes all it takes to feel creative, to become an artist, is to be in the right place, encouraged by the right people. While the true artists are the ones who can capture this energy and hold it within themselves, in my art center I want to open up that possibility to everyone, if only for the one hour a week they can spare to come to my studio.