Crafty Ladies is an ever-evolving, ongoing, personal photography project connecting me with creative women. I’m documenting their faces and their stories in order to better understand the role of creativity in women’s lives, and its impact on my own.
Christy Smith opened the door to her Atlanta bungalow, belly bare, music spilling out into the cool winter morning. She’d been dancing, and her face was flushed and her back was straight when she invited me into her home to talk about writing, connecting, and the ongoing process of creativity.
“I thought creativity was the end product, and not the whole thing. One of the women I’m writing about said, ‘I was watching all these people just poop out all this creative shit, like, how do they just magically make this shit happen?’ And then she said, ‘I totally forgot about the upper G.I. of creativity. Like, it’s what you nourish yourself with. It’s the digestion process.’ And I was like, I’m totally stealing that.”
“I think we feel like we have to be finished and perfect. A lot of the dancers I’ve spoken with have had challenges with dancing spontaneously, or they’ve had to overcome that fear that someone would film it and it would be on the internet and it wouldn’t be perfect. Criticism can be so anonymous and terrible.
I used to do ballroom dance – competitive stuff. And they’re very cutthroat, and they’re mean and they’re nasty. And I’m like, how can we be in an artistic field and be kind and supportive of one another? Competition is something I’ve struggled with.”
“There’s a gap between the person we are today, and the best self that we want to be. And all of the interesting work happens in the gap, in the middle, in between those two states.”
I’m quite taken by the concept of creativity as an ongoing practice. I tend to think of creativity as a place at which I will arrive one day, a whole creative person, with a big “Creator” medal pinned to my chest. And we’re in a culture that embraces creativity in that way – as competition, as a proving ground. But I want creativity to be a staple in my life, like fruits and veggies. I want creativity to seep into the pores of even my most mundane everyday behaviors.
I remember being a little kid cleaning the bathroom and pretending I was on a cleaning show. (What can I say – it made sense at the time.) I would whisper-speak instructions to my fake TV audience about how to properly shine the faucet and make the mirror gleam. In my little kid way, I was infusing the least enjoyable task with creativity.
Maybe if we all experienced creativity as a way of life, it would feel less intimidating.