Tuesday, October 14, 2008
Do You Believe In Gurus?
I follow Robert Genn's newsletter, Painters' Keys, on a regular basis; there's a lot of information to be found on the internet, and newsletters like this one are a great way of ensuring the occasional creative nudge. I have to confess, I don't read them all, and I doubt very much if Robert would expect me to... Anyway... He wrote an interesting piece here
which I felt I just had to respond to, about how gurus and mentors are rife in the art world (they are in the business world too, of course...). And about how many of them are in it for a quick buck. I hope you'll read the whole piece, it's considered and helpful, but I wanted to post my response here, too.
"This gave me a bit of a poke in the ribs. Along with a colleague, I've just published a book for textile artists on using Lutradur. And another two are in development, one on another non woven fabric, another on removing the practical and emotional blocks we put up between ourselves and our creativity. That one draws on my experience as a Self Development specialist and artist. And I've run several online groups for many years, to encourage growth and change in textile artists. Am I a guru? Err... not in my own head. In my own head, I'm a constantly changing and developing artist, sharing some of what I know for free, and some of it for (a very modest) gain. I may be a guru in your head, or my students' heads, but I'm not in my own, and if I ever I get to that point, I hope to goodness someone will take me gently aside and wake me up! When I work with people, I want to encourage them to believe that they have all the answers inside them already, and can learn to draw them out for themselves. Gurus, methinks, create a culture of dependency that is positively harmful to everyone, and stifles creativity."
My aim in writing books and working with individuals (I'm about to start offering coaching for textile artists) is always to show you that you are your own guru. Everything you need, you already have; it just takes a bit of thought to work it out, and it's often easier to do that with someone with no direct connection. Doth the lady protest too much? I hope not. And, like I say in my response, if I ever get to guru in my own head, I'm trusting my friends (you know who you are...) to flatten that tendency, kindly but firmly. You know you'll want to!