Make Art: Creativity is Our Birthright

Merrian-Webster Art noun :something that is created with imagination and skill and that is beautiful or that expresses important ideas or feelings

noun: “something that is created with imagination and skill and that is beautiful or that expresses important ideas or feelings”

What is Art?

In describing the work that we do at Healing Icons, many times I am fearful of using the word ART, as it can be intimidating. It conjures up images of hushed museums and galleries with stark white walls, where everyone is dressed in black, looking very pretentious and serious. Art has become more and more about creating a “sophisticated” product that only a few trained elite produce. There is even a more select group that purchases and collects it. This make me really sad because I truly believe that art is a language every single human being needs access to.  Sometimes words are not enough.

So in order not to alienate people or scare them off, I use the softer, more approachable word that the crafty DIY movement has embraced – creativity.  Merriam-Webster defines creativity as “the ability to make new things or think of new ideas.”  I used the words art-making and creativity interchangeably to instill the theme of last month’s blog post, Fear No Art, into everyone’s mind!

Now that we have established what art is, let’s look at …

Why We Make Art

There has always been a persistent human urge to create - carving in stone and on tools, paintings in caves ...

There has always been a persistent human urge to create – carving in stone and on tools, paintings in caves – transform what is ordinary into something extraordinary.

As brilliant artist and philosopher Elbert Hubbard once said, “Art is not a thing — it is a way.

Until recently, the general consensus was that we’d been making art for around 30,000 years, but a recent finding in Java, Indonesia dates our creative desires to over 540,000 years ago. In 2014, a fossilized freshwater mollusk sea shell was found at the Trinil archaeological site, and this shell held a very precise zig-zag design engraved on it. Researchers think the shell was used as some sort of tool for cutting or scraping and that it was etched with a shark’s tooth, surmising that it took a sophisticated level of skill for Homo Erectus to create it.  The meaning of the design could have some symbolic significance, or the artist could simply have liked the linear design. Perhaps it was the first art for art’s sake.

“So what does lie behind the apparently universal human urge to create art, an urge that to a modern, bottom-line thinker might seem unnecessary, and to an evolutionary biologist might even seem dangerously impractical and frivolous?  One clue emerges when we realize that most art, going back to pre-modern societies, expresses people’s hopes and fears around matters of life and death: finding food, assuring prosperity and safety, curing illness, preventing harm.”

From Greater Good – The Birth of Art by Ellen Dissanayake

 Creativity is Our Birthright!

"Filling a space in a beautiful way. That's what art means to me."

“Filling a space in a beautiful way. That’s what art means to me.”

As modern art has become more of a commodity than an experience, this powerful visual language has been lost to most of us. Art helps us tell our stories about what it is to be human. It helps us understand and celebrate the world we live in. Healing Icons is dedicated to reviving this soulful human language, to demystifying it and making it accessible to all.

 “The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance.” Artistotle

“Art has something to do with the achievement of stillness in the midst of chaos.”  Saul Bellow

“Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.”  Thomas Merton


Why do you make art?  



  1. Ruth Bayard on October 26, 2015 at 3:32 pm

    This is beautifully written and so explains how art makes us human.

  2. Deana Rennick on October 26, 2015 at 4:44 pm

    I’m an artist and an art teacher, and I think you’re right that ART can be seen as scary or unattainable. Often hear students say they aren’t talented or aren’t an artist, and it’s always my goal to help them find out that they are. 🙂

    • Heidi Darr-Hope on October 27, 2015 at 12:14 pm

      Deana, your students are lucky to have such a dedicated inspiring teacher. Thanks for guiding this high “schoolers” into Art!

  3. Christy Clonts on October 26, 2015 at 5:42 pm

    This reminds me that we can add creativity to anything we do. When we do it things mindfully, putting our whole heart into it, doing whatever it is for the joy of it, or thinking about what benefit it will bring to self or others, then we want to personalize it, make it beautiful (to me), meaningful (to me), to give as much pleasure in the making and doing, if not more so, than the final product.

  4. Donna McGreevy on October 26, 2015 at 8:30 pm

    If creativity is our birthright then we should embrace it and find a way to exercise it! That what Healing Icons has helped me to understand and put into practice. I am so grateful to Heidi for opening that window to my soul that has helped me move through a cancer diagnosis, treatment and survivorship. The personal growth that I’ve experienced through the years and now being able to help others as an “ambassador” are gifts beyond measure.

    • Heidi Darr-Hope on October 27, 2015 at 12:16 pm

      Donna, Thank you for opening your heart to Art and encouraging other cancer survivors to trust the process. You have been an agent of change in many people’s lives!

  5. Linda DeLeonardis on October 27, 2015 at 2:19 am

    Creativity is a wonderful aspect of life. Throughout my experiences with Healing Icons I have tried many mediums for my artwork that I most likely would not have ventured into. My pieces have given way to a calmness like no other and I’ve learned to branch out and go from there. My cancer experience has softened because of my writing and work.

    • Heidi Darr-Hope on October 27, 2015 at 12:20 pm

      Linda, It has been an incredible experience to witness you blossom into your confident, strong, calm, quiet artistic voice. Your courage, your story has inspired and enriched many lives. For all this I am thankful.

  6. Mae E. Wells on October 27, 2015 at 4:10 am

    To be in touch with one’s creativity is a blessing! Healing Icons has helped me to rediscover who I am and to enjoy the fellowship of others. I thank Heidi for the opportunity to continue in the program because it
    has enriched my life immensely.

    • Heidi Darr-Hope on October 27, 2015 at 12:26 pm

      Mae, I love the stories you have shared about your midnight creativity sessions – that sometimes when you can’t sleep you turn to Art, to creativity in order to express what needs to be expressed. Your creative voice is strong and your willingness to share your story has encouraged others to jump into Healing Icons.

  7. Evelyn Anderson on October 27, 2015 at 8:27 pm

    I always envied people that were artistic and wished I had been blessed with that talent. I didn’t know much about mixed media art until I started Heidi’s class but I learned I could be more creative using different techniques and found it to be very soothing to my soul!
    Thanks so much, Heidi!

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