Saving the Cat

Author of Free Play
The artist expresses an idea

Stephen Nachmanovitch has some amazing things to say about creating.  He plays improvisational viola d’amore… go figure.  He also writes music, articles, books and computer programs.  Nachmanovitch has spoken and performed around the world while firmly pushing the boundaries of creativity.  He sometimes blends his various interests creating new ideas, new music, new art and new approaches to technology.  He appeals to me lately as I am increasingly interested in artists who excel in more than one venue.  Decades ago I worked for the Performing Arts Center in my hometown and the building’s secretary told me that artists always seem to have more than one area of artistic expression.  We often had well-known stage performers traveling through and actors, singers and dancers would inevitably be interested in our art galleries and local architecture.  This speaks to the idea that though we can express ideas in a particular discipline and become skilled in one area, once we have let the artistic cat out of the bag it will be into everything.  Once you experience the euphoria of creation in one way, you find yourself reaching for other tools of expression.  The dancer takes voice lessons, the painter takes a stab at a novel,  the poet with a lump of clay in her hands, are all imaginable.  Nachmanovitch makes the point that mastery of an art is the “soul expressing itself.”  Ultimately, it is the expression within the discipline that captures the imagination.

“Creativity is the soul expressing itself, in speech, gesture, sound, color, movement, building, inventing. Before all else it is simply to be able to say something. That’s one of the great mysteries in both art and everyday life: how something appears from nothing. After something is said, all kinds of tricks and techniques can be applied to make our work more artful… The important thing is to start someplace, anyplace. Then we can play with, refine, elaborate the original statement until it pleases us. Before the dance of inspiration and perspiration can begin, there must be some raw material, some spark of inciting energy.”

from Saving the Cat by Stephen Nachmanovitch

Stephen Nachmanovitch performs and teaches internationally as an improvisational violinist and violist, and at the intersections of music, dance, theater, and multimedia arts.


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