by Janet Grace Riehl
with Stephanie Farrow
A wizard appears before you. He
offers the tantalizing gift of creative talent in more than one field. Do you
The blessings of the wizard’s gift
- An expanded palette with which to paint your creative
vision: language, movement, sound, visual art and media, theater.
- A choice to rotate your gifts or bring them together
into new form.
- Wowing your friends in cocktail conversations and
The curse of the gift would be:
- Confusion. What to do first, where, and when?
- Overwhelm by and fear of so many choices.
- The responsibility of deciding how to shape the extra
freedom of expression.
- The possibility of never getting anything done because
of starting so many creative projects without finishing them.
- Having to learn to say “no”—and mean it.
The wizard promises more freedom and
choice. But the gift comes with responsibilities and obstacles to match.
Choosing and directing the freedom multi-talents bring, may make you feel like
you need magical powers of your own. You’d have to learn to welcome limits,
rules, and boundaries in order to sort, shape, and determine the scale of your
projects. You’d have to make friends with constraints as a way to make the best
use of your freedom.
Freedom requires a container, and
that container is structure. In art school I learned that setting criteria,
goals, and deadlines helped me create a body of work for my senior show. I set
the theme early on of investigating the vessel. Then I yielded to intuition as
my hands made a flotilla of boats from the constructed world, pods from nature,
and the intimacy of the body. To install a cohesive show I had to decide which
objects to include, how to arrange them, and how viewers would interact with
the world inside the room. In short, I used structure as my guide and my
This is the second in a series of five posts on multi-talented creativity. Pose questions about practical
creativity; give ideas for future cycle themes; and join in the dialog.