Contemplating the Muse (part 1)

A recent issue of NEA ARTS magazine really got me thinking about inspiration, that intangible, inexhaustible and often elusive wellspring that enables artists to express ideas in new ways to enlighten, delight or challenge their audience.

While every artist has their own ideas as to the source of inspiration and how best to tap into it, one concept seems ever present – inspiration is not something that simply happens to someone (or doesn’t) as a boon from some unseen benefactor whispering in their ear, rather it is the result of an artist’s dedication to their work and the open-minded awareness they maintain of the world around them.


Consider the following quotations selected from the NEA ARTS issue on inspiration:

“[If inspiration is lightning], working on your craft is making yourself a lightning rod.”  ~Chris Thile, musician

“[The artist] realizes that the only way [inspiration] can happen is if you’re working and thinking, centered and always aware.”  ~Muriel Hasbun, photographer

“When something sparks a new idea about an unrelated topic, that’s inspiration. If you keep your eyes open wide enough, you can find inspiration in just about anything.”  ~Septime Webre, choreographer

So, before screaming at your muse for not showering you with ideas, ask yourself if you are working hard enough at your craft and open to seeing the inspiration all around you.

This issue sparked so many ideas that I’ll divide them up into several posts. Until then, I invite you to read it yourself (#4, 2013, “The Inspiration Quotient: A Different Kind of IQ”).

~Aric Jorn

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