The Gifted Blog

June 1, 2011

Journey of Courage | Why We Make

I write The Gifted Blog because I love to create. I've been reflecting on what it means to be a Christian and to love making things. I hope this series will be a jumping-off point for thoughtful discussion among us, no matter your spiritual background. For the whole series, click here.

"There's always so much anxiety before I make a piece..."

I met Maria through a Christian fellowship when she was a freshman in college, a dedicated Latina student headed for a major in the sciences. She loved physics, and as she plunged into college life, she envisioned her major and degree as something that would eventually provide her and her family a stable future.

God used an internship at an arts camp to completely change her direction. I drove her up into the mountains for that camp, then moved away and we lost touch. She realized she wanted to make art. She ended up going for a studio art major, then on to grad school to study arts administration. We reunited recently and talked about her work as an artist.

It was then that she commented, "There's always so much anxiety before I make a piece." Then, thinking it over, she concluded, "It's a journey of courage."

Writing about Maria today, I'm struck by the many ways that she has been on a journey of courage:
-following her heart to make a less "practical" choice.
-trusting that God will provide for her and her family.
-making art inspired by her Christian beliefs at an academically rigorous, secular university.
-delving into the museum world as a woman of color.

It seemed like some of you could resonate with my recent bout of writer's block. Whether we're painting or drawing or writing, how many of can relate to the act of making as "a journey of courage"? It takes courage to find out what we can create. It takes courage to face our fear of failure, or even just our fear of looking dumb.

What about you? What takes courage for you to make?

See more of Maria's work and read about her inspiration here.

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  1. Love this post, Charissa. (This whole series is great.) I definitely resonate with the feeling anxious and needing courage. Especially as I'm trying to grow in the craft of writing, it takes some courage for me to believe that the writing no one will see is still "worth it," that it will help inform the writing that people do see, or that it's simply of value on its own.

    I think it's so valuable and redemptive that we learn courage from making art. Thanks for posting (and thanks, Maria, for painting -- love what I see here!)

  2. @Betsy - Thank you! I'm so glad Maria was open to me writing about her.

    That's interesting what you mention about whether or not your writing will be seen. Do you mean like writing exercises, or even journaling? I remember reading about dancer Twyla Tharp starting her 1st dance company...and that sometimes they performed with no audience!

  3. Yes, exactly. I think doing it "with no audience" makes me easily question if the work is legit, and then in turn if I am legit. So I guess the courage is needed for responding to a call instead of to productivity, labels, feedback, etc. For some reason, for me it's also a question of waste. Still trying to tease this one out... all I know is that it takes courage to revise and take out a bunch of words, especially when they're usually hard-won!

  4. Interesting discussion. I sometimes think I'm a much better maker when I have no audience because then my work comes from a place that is less about what the audience wants and more about what I want. Which, in turn, is more authentic, and more me, I think. Is the act of being more authentic, more courageous too? I think so. Only when you are truly yourself do you expose your vulnerabilities.

    Perhaps this comment was a tad off topic.... Have a great day Charissa!

  5. Hi Charissa!
    I love this series too! Sometimes it feels like it takes courage for me to make anything (I like to cook as well be a potter and a crafter and a painter) I think for me it's an acceptance thing, will anyone like what I've made? It seems easier to make things for no audience, that's when I feel I can explore my talents without the aprehension.


  6. I just accidentally bumped into your blog, Charissa. It's somewhat unique! I will add it to my own blogroll.


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