Monday, December 10, 2012

"Creative Habit": #4 Harness Your Memory

This past weekend I helped my parents decorate their Christmas tree.  As I lifted the lid off of the dusty box of ornaments I was flooded with memories of Christmases past, of my childhood.  I was instantly transported back to days of macaroni ornaments and construction paper chains.  Jumbled stories and visions filled my heart.  I was suddenly 6 years old.

Memory is powerful and perhaps one of the most useful tools for an artist.  "It's the skill that lets us story away the vital and seemingly trivial data and images and experiences of our lives."  However, Twyla states that creativity is more about taking our memories and finding new ways to connect them.  This is "metaphor".  It "transforms the strange into the familiar."  If all art is metaphor, then all art begins with memory".

In Chapter 4 of "The Creative Habit: Learn it and Use it for Life" Twyla discusses types of memory:

  • Muscle Memory ~ After diligent practice and repetition of certain physical movements, your body will remember those moves years, even decades after you cease doing them. 
  • Virtual Memory ~ The ability to project yourself into feelings and emotions from your past and let them manifest themselves physically.
  • Sensual Memory ~ When the suddent appearance of a smell or taste or sound or color instantly floods the imagination with images from the past.
  • Ancient Memory ~ A connection to our ancestors, which feeds into our own lives and personalities.
Twyla states that "Once you realize the power of memory, you begin to see how much is at your disposal in previously underappreciated places.  The trick is figuring out how to tap into it.  Somestimes you ahve to be proactive about mining the veins of memory within you."

Later in the week I will share some exercises that Twyla shares to help us learn to access and use memory.  But how do you utilize memory in your work?

1 comment:

  1. Very timely post. We're all pretty much digging through memories at this time of year. Excellent.