Do you only see the ordinary?

At school, we launched our Earth Day recycled art project 2 weeks ago. The art teacher has even offered extra credit points for bringing something in. There is still only my owl hanging on the very large bulletin board. And I thought with over 400 students in the school we would run out of room for the art. I can understand with busy schedules and spring weather (finally) that even my own two girls have not made anything yet.

When I emptied the plastic container of Parmesan cheese, I held up the lid at the dinner table.

"What does this look like?"

Ellie replied, "I don't know? A dog?"

I said "It's totally a FROG!"

They still didn't see it. I had to try to describe why I thought it did.

I told this story to 2 moms at school this morning as we looked at the blank Earth Day wall.

They said "See. You are so creative. Nobody thinks that way, but an artist."

Many of my friends are artists. I know lots of designers and lots of painters. If we were all in a room together they would agree with me on the frog or offer up a huge long list of other possibilities for my cheese can lid. Therefore, I think being creative is quite ordinary.

Then I find myself in a room full of people who all proclaim "I am not at all creative. I don't know how to make anything." Sometimes they act like I am a genius or a little bit of a freak for being even the least bit creative. (That's why I find comfort in hanging around artists.) I believe everyone is creative and people who say they are not were educated to NOT be creative. This is why I should be teaching art to children and "non-creative" adults.

I'd like to hear what you have to say. Please leave comments.

Does my cheese can lid look like a frog to you?

Do you have any other ideas about the cheese can lid?

Do you think all people have the potential to be a genius, or creative in some way and are taught that they are not? (intentionally or unintentionally)

Don't you think the word extraordinary is peculiar? It sounds like it is describing something more ordinary than ordinary. Extra-ordinary.


APRiL said...

i see the goofy face of a brontosaurus (i can totally see the frog)!

i think you either have the creative gene or not. you can try to train people, but i think we see the world very differently from others. when i was growing up we had this crazy wallpaper and i would "see" different things in it everytime i looked at it. i still do, even if it's a few lines or dots on a page. it's just instinct.

i like extraordinary...

patti said...

I suppose we all have our different abilities. And to be creative, does not necessarily mean visually creative. Of the two moms that I had the conversation with, one was a writer and the other was a runner. The runner has created a running program for young girls throughout the whole region. Very creative! Plus, there is also the example of Maya who is creative musically, but does not enjoy the visual arts.

Thanks for your comment, April. I don't quite understand why my posts get 90 hits and one comment?

Patrick said...


Yes I see the frog, in fact I can almost imagine his tongue coming out of his mouth and snatching an unlucky insect that’s flying by. I can also see one of my son’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I can see Ellie’s dog but I’d want to attach ears to the side of his head (I can be such a literalist sometimes). If I didn’t know better I might have guessed it was a fancy tin for storing a reel of 16mm film.

I agree with you completely that every person of sound mind and body (and a good percentage of those whose minds and bodies have been damaged in one way or another) has the potential for creativity and genius. People are often afraid to play with ideas and let their imaginations soar. It could be viewed as childish; and someone could think their new idea is stupid.

I can imagine someone (who thinks the work they do is serious and important) using words like “creative” and “extraordinary” in a pejorative sense. I’m not saying that is what happened in this case. But people will compliment someone and say something is "cute" and "creative", when they don’t know what else to say, and then immediately change the subject. It can be quite awkward.

Patti, I'm sorry I misspelled your name in my last post . . . I noticed my error right as I was clicking the "Publish" button.

Patrick said...

One more thing . . .

Patti, you are a natural teacher . . . You make art accessible in a way that I have never seen anyone else do. The demonstrations you do here are inherently interesting. Your confidence is contagious. With patience and the requisite effort I can almost imagine myself developing the skill to express my own vision and feelings. You REALLY should be teaching art to children and "non-creative" adults.

'becca said...

i can see the frog and april's brontosaurus.

i think a lot of non-creatives put themselves into that box. i think it's safer to shy away from creative thinking, especially if the judgment of those ideas is too much to take. when with a group of artists, the exchange of creative ideas is so natural and easy because (usually) the judgment aspect is gone. we each respect the ideas of the other. add in a couple of executives and department directors, and i certainly clam up.

you would be the best art teacher ever.