Art of the Song

Sourcing Creativity: Place

Continued discussion on Creative Source

By Claire Long | Posted 1/14/06 | Updated 9/16/20

There are often physical places, which are the sources for our creative work; external places of inspiration that parallel the source of creativity within ourselves.

And there is always a physical space where the work is actually written, created, played etc. The physical place of inspiration and the workspace may be the same or different, but they always exist in creative work whether we consciously acknowledge their role in this process or not. Sourcing the physical place where our creative practice happens gives physical dimension and identity to this process.

In a world dominated by virtual cyber-reality and franchise-dotted towns and cities the particularities of our physical source is of even greater interest to us. Examining our physical environment with all of our senses can provide us with new perspectives and greater understanding of our artistic practice in the context of place.

In rural settings I observe the lay of the land, light, shadows, flora and fauna, architecture if it exists, sound, temperature, color, air movement, smells and even tastes. In the city, I observe people, their movements and interactions with each other, language, traffic, buildings, pollution, graffiti, advertisements and lights. After noticing all of these qualities a new intimacy with place emerges. And in my experience intimacy is a kin to inspiration.

It is not only interesting but empowering to acknowledge the influence that different places have on our work and to take note of how different physical surroundings and places affect our practice. Acknowledging the physical places where we are inspired and being aware of where we work best helps to fine-tune the process.

Realizing that I am deeply affected by place has provided me with another point of variation and experimentation in my work. As a visual artist, for me, place is as much a part of my materials list as my camera or paint box.

©2006 Claire Long. All rights reserved.

Art of the Song Team member Claire Long, a native Northern New Mexican and graduate of the University of New Mexico, walks the tight rope of the artist, anthropologist and activist. More