Black Bucket Essays
Volume 1, Issue 4
What if there is no next new thing? Do we sit around and mourn the fact that we've seen it before? There's a way to look at creativity that doesn't necessarily have to do with creating something we've never seen before. It can be about reinterpreting or misinterpreting the world that's already around us.
- LAURA HOPTMAN
What if reinterpreting and misinterpreting is the next new thing that is so difficult to find? This quote truly hit home for me because this is exactly what I’ve been doing lately. At first, I wanted to back off and say, finally! – I got a permission to do the same work, that I have seen and done before! But, wait, is this what I want for my practice?
In Art school, I heard my professors say that everything has been done before, and an artist can never come up with an original idea. I tell the same to my students. What makes artists go on is the new voice, perhaps even on halftones, that allows the work to be new and fresh. And this new thing is painfully difficult to discover. Because the Next New Thing challenges the status quo. The Next New Thing may be a complete failure, but it is so necessary to exist. The Next New Thing may be just a step to transition one’s ideology, thoughts, and practices to the new level, essential for growth.
How many traditions exist in visual art that perpetuate the same aesthetic? Illusionistic painting and painterly abstraction, photographic portraiture, naturalistic sculpture, just a few that come to mind (many contemporary practices may be added to the list, simply because they are not the next new thing anymore). What does it mean to practice these methods of artistic expression today? These topics are academic; they are taught to students in the beginning of their studies to establish and perpetuate the tradition with hope that students will know what rules to break. These topics are easy to understand and to digest; they do not require a sophisticated viewer or a thinker. Skill becomes the highest value and the work suffers from inability to move beyond that.
Creativity is exactly that: searching for the next new thing. This is exactly what separates a practicing artist from an amateur: the ability to find the means of growth beyond the mastery of technique, within oneself, one’s artistic culture, and, on a larger scale, to reflect the changes in the society.