Where do the dark ribbons of genius originate? Waking up in the morning, snippets of dreams tease us back into sleep’s adventures. How did they get there? Where do they originate? We traverse lands we have never been to, encounter friends and strangers, and navigate architectural structures of M.C. Escher complexity. We see what we never thought was possible, experience wholesale changes in the laws of physics. What wellspring of the mind creates such playgrounds? And how do we value it in our everyday life?
Most of the time the dream slips quietly away, dispersing like smoke tendrils on a fall afternoon. Most of the time we have routine to slip into, responsibilities to meet, schedules to uphold, assignments to complete. The amalgamation of responsibilities tends to be poor fodder for the fragile creativity that finds its ways into our days. We undervalue those creative moments. We shouldn’t. There is a reason creativity is valued, a reason why the “A” (Art) has been inserted into STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math). It has a primary relevancy in education. That little “a” is like a spark, cupped and carried, to light the way between what is and what might be.
Thursday afternoon, easels sprouted across campus like wild mushrooms. Corby’s class had been set loose for an en plein air class. What catches the eye? The magnolia tree by Maxwell Savage? The pond stretching towards the Fowler Learning Center? The chapel outline of the Health Center? Paintbrushes dabbed, eyes squinted, and images emerged. How does one see? How does one capture what one sees? Henry James wrote about the house of fiction where every window onto the world offers a slightly different view for the artist, a slightly different slant of light. Learning how to capture that view, finding the framework for insights and the skills for expressing the landscape in a salient, measured manner is one of the challenges behind the little “a.”
So if one carries the spark that can light the way between what is and what could be but fails to develop the vocabulary and skill to carry it forward – a vocabulary and skill that can be found in mathematics as easily as ceramics – what is lost to the individual? To the world?
This is one of the reasons why the arts are so valued at Proctor, why we expand our offerings on and off campus. We believe that the imagination is less a field for casual play and more an opportunity to discover the essential. We believe in developing the skills to carry possibility forward. We believe that much starts with the arts and the imagination. We don’t want to lose that spark.
Ours is the individual responsibility to carry it forward. Ours, too, is the collective responsibility to foster the imagination and creativity in others and help them carry it forward.
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Mike Henriques P'11, P'15
Proctor Academy Head of School