by Jenna Chia
Maya Angelou said, “you can’t use up creativity- the more you use, the more you have.” This quote is a reminder that, contrary to modern understandings of creativity and what it means to be artistic, we are all born creative beings. Creativity is not a special talent only bestowed on a lucky few, but rather a quality inherent to human nature. It drives our interactions, relationships, the joy and fulfillment we seek, and the meaning we make in our lives.
Children are the best demonstration of this. From an early age we see kids imagine, create, and invent, in every aspect of their lives. In their innate wisdom, children see and experience the value of creativity even before they have the words to describe it. The more they create, the more they want to create.
As children become increasingly exposed to social norms and expectations, their creativity can become constrained. Our current education curriculum and the cultural value placed on outcomes and productivity, all contribute to this. So how can we support young people to continue nurturing their creativity as they get older?
The COVID-19 pandemic, lockdowns and extended periods of remote learning posed many challenges for families. However, the silver lining for many young people was the space and time to be more creative. As extra-curricular activities and social outings were put on hold, kids had more free time, and the increasingly elusive experience of boredom. And as we all know, with boredom comes the space for imagination and creation.
Perhaps this is one of the more positive experiences we can take away from the last two years. As we return to our previous pace of life and reconnect with family and friends, hopefully we can still hold space for kids to nurture their innate creativity.
An Interview with the Artists:
Greta, 7 years old and Moshe, 5 years old
As an adult, it’s all very well to talk about the importance of kids and creativity, but let’s hear from some creative children themselves.
What do you like about art?
Greta: You can be creative and just do and make whatever you want. You can just do whatever is in your head. And it doesn’t have to be a picture of anything. It can just be swirls or squiggles and it’s still art.
Moshe: It’s fun!
What sort of art do you like to make?
Greta: I like to make anything that pops in my mind. Drawing pictures of families, of the sun, of nature, of our house. I like cutting things, pasting things, sticking them together, and lots of glitter!
Moshe: I do a lot of yoga.
Greta: I am writing a chapter book at school, it’s non-fiction, a true story.
Moshe: What’s it about?
Greta: It’s about what it was like before people were even here.
Moshe: I like making persons. I paint and draw them. And I like colouring.
Greta: He can also make paper airplanes, he has a book.
Moshe: Yeah, I make lots of planes from my book.
Did you make things when you were home during COVID?
Greta: Yes, it was good entertainment, and we had more things to do.
Moshe: We didn’t get as bored.
Do you do art at school?
Greta: Yes, but it’s not as good because you don’t get to choose what you do, we have topics. I’m making a ladybug at school by weaving which is good, but I like the bit at the end where it’s free time and you can make what you want.
How do you feel when you’re making things?
Greta: I feel peaceful and it’s calming. Because sometimes you just get really into it and you’re not thinking about it, you’re just moving the pencil wherever it wants to go. It gets your feelings out.
Moshe: It’s just fun and it just makes me feel good. And there’s not much noise. It’s very quiet when I’m doing it.
Who is the most arty or creative person you know?
Greta: My friend Saskia, she always goes to the library to do drawing.
Moshe: Probably me!
Can you show me some of your art?
Greta: This is a picture of my friend’s dog where he was smelling rotten eggs. He has crossed eyes!
Moshe: Look at this! These are my paper airplanes. This is the book, you follow the instructions and you can make all different ones. Greta can make robots!
Greta: Yeah, out of paper!
Moshe: This is my book of art that I did when I had COVID – these are all the pictures. This is upside down world. These are all the drawings of people. I draw made-up people. And I paint.
If you could create or make anything in the world, what would it be?
Greta: A robot that does my homework and gives me whatever food I want.
Moshe: A rocket!