Wednesday, May 14, 2008

"Imagination is more important than knowledge. For while knowledge defines all we currently know and understand, imagination points to all we might yet discover and create." (Albert Einstein)

"What art offers is space - a certain breathing room for the spirit." (John Updike)

The other night, our local school system held a Fine Arts Night which included art displays and performances by our elementary, middle, and high school drama groups and choirs. It ended with an outstanding performance by the high school's jazz band.

I love to support events like this because--let's face it--the art in our schools often get overshadowed by the academics and the athletics. And I think you know me a little bit from what I write here on this blog... that I am probably one of the most sports-crazed people around (I love me some basketball, and baseball, and football, and... on and on), but I think that the arts definitely gets short-changed in our schools and communities. And we need to be careful, or the arts will end up getting eliminated.

And, as those two quotes at the beginning reveal, art and imagination and creativity are vital to the soul. I think we are better people when we can feel things from our "insides"...when we can FEEL the beauty of music, or experience an epiphany from reading a poem, or learn more about ourselves from watching a play, or sense something special from viewing a painting, or get more in touch with our souls from seeing a photograph.

And we can experience those things from both being an observer of art, and by participating as an artist. And...I think we NEED to do both.

I am blessed to come from a family who thinks and feels things deeply...mostly from reading and writing. My parents and brother are all authors, and I was raised with an appreciation for words (I can remember the countless times we had spelling bees and vocabulary contests on road trips!). I grew up writing stories and creating newspapers for the neighborhood.

I also tagged along with Dad on Sunday afternoons when he went in search of the "perfect" old barn or church to take a picture of; went with Mom to museums and to local theatre productions; finally "got it" one day and started reading the classics from my parents' bookshelves; and listened to everything from the Moody Blues and Van Morrison to Smetana and Rachmaninoff.

And today, as I get closer and closer to my 40th birthday, I find myself becoming even more in-tune with my creative side (or I find myself RE-turning it to it, might be a better way to say it). I'm journaling and writing poetry more often, and I find that scrapbooking has finally helped me locate some of that "artistic" part of me that I always wished I had (I never really could draw a straight line growing up, although I sure wanted to!).

I am grateful that the girls seemed to have developed a love for the arts. McKenna, although a typical 16-year-old in many ways, loves to read (not just typical teenage drama stuff, but also poetry and the classics), loves to sketch, writes phenomenally well, plays the french horn, and dances. Delaney, although a very strong athlete and a sports nut like me!, is a fantastic writer and a very talented singer. Sydney...well, Sydney is a creator of some wonderful refrigerator art and loves to do ballet (which, if you listened to my recording yesterday, you'd know that! LOL).

Of course, there is so much MORE I wish I could do (I wish we had more time to go to plays and art galleries)...and I find that I wish I was doing more with my girls (I know that I haven't shared enough music with them)...but I do have an appreciation and love for the arts and for that I'm grateful.

So... I guess this is a CHALLENGE to all of you.

Locate a fine arts event in your community and go to it; take some time this summer to go to your local art museum; come up with a plan to do some "artsy" activities at home with your children this summer (I've got an idea to have a creative writing day once a week). And tell your local school principals and school board members that you value the arts programs in the schools (sometimes, I think they just need to hear it from the parents!).

And, finally (and I know this is a challenge for those of you who don't think you're "creative")... become an ACTIVE participant in a creative endeavor. Get out a pack of watercolors and try your hand at it; go buy a CD of classical "greats" and give it a lesson; go on an afternoon excursion with your camera and see what you find; write a poem or a short story.

Sometimes it's hard to try something different, but as someone famous once said: "You never know if you don't try!" (although I'm not sure who that famous person was!)

And now...I thought I'd close with a few recent pictures that speak to me on a creative, imaginative, level.


Mom and I discussing the NOVEL she just finished writing!! Yep, Mom spent all of last year working on a novel and she recently finished it. (I am so inspired by her, because I also have a novel I want to write... but I'm not near as diligent as she has been with hers!) We spent some time on Mother's Day going over it together. (And don't you love that we are both barefoot sitting in a sunroom? There is also a glass of sweet tea in front of me, although you can't see it! This picture is SO match my voice you all got to hear yesterday! LOL)

Delaney's school choir singing at the Fine Arts Night (go ahead, I bet you can find her. She's the shortest one there! LOL)...

McKenna dancing...

Sydney getting ready to dance...

My husband, Gary, is a real "man's man." He loves to hunt, goes to Alabama football games with me, is happier watching Delaney on the softball field than just about anything, and certainly knows how to spit and scratch...LOL... but he is also very artistic. He is an amazing photographer and his pictures just blow me away! He was recently asked to submit some of his photographs to a local hospital for them to display in their halls, and we are both so excited about it.

Here are a few of his photos that I really like...

You can go be inspired by some more of his photographs at the blog he just set

And, while you're at it...visit Maria's Flickr site and Susie Q's Flickr site for more artsy inspiration! They are some great photographers.

I hope you all have a BEAUTIFULLY CREATIVE Wednesday!

(and, by the way, I know that you all think that I have a REALLY Southern accent from listening to my podcast yesterday...that just really cracked me up, because I do have an accent but it is NOTHING like some of these people down here. I want you all to come down South and visit me and hear some real accents. Ha!!)


Monogram Queen said...

Yes I agree the arts are VERY important. I often think with fondness of my art and music classes in elementary school.

Leah said...

I love that first pic of Gary's on the water with the birds!!

Gin said...

Great post, Cheryl. I totally agree.

Those pictures are great (and, wow, very neat about your mom writing a book).

inara said...

Your husband's pics are breathtaking! I especially love the one with the boat.

Cheryl Wray said...

Patti--I used to love art class in grade school. So fun!

Leah--I know. I love that one too.

Gin--Yeah, I am SO proud of Mom for doing that.

Inara--I know. I love it too!

Cheryl said...

You are so incredibly talented. I love to read your blog. BTW you look like your Mom. I loved the pictures. Gary took some great shots, he certainly has a talent also. Your girls really have something to look forward to, having all of that talent from Mom and Dad should rub off on them. They are very blessed to have such great parents! Have a good week Cheryl! I just love writing that name for someone else, does that sound crazy? God Bless~

Adrienne said...

They are very important!!! Love the pics!

crazy working mom said...

Those girls of yours are so beautiful. You have a talented family.

Auburn Kat said...

I love the waterfall picture!

Anonymous said...

I love all those pictures.