The Layers of Creativity

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Making room for creativity often seems like a daunting task, right? Between “real life” responsibilities and dinner prep and ink-scrawled calendar pages, finding time to create for the sake of creating seems like a long-lost luxury. And it is, for most. Unless you’re Austin-based artist and powerhouse career woman Xochi Solis.

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Xochi always knew she’d be making art in some capacity. “I used to think I was going to be an architect, or at least I dressed up as one for third grade Career Day,” Xochi jokes. And although she’s not quite an architect, she’s been busy building the foundation for a serious career in the arts, juggling work as both an artist and University of Texas’ Visual Arts Center Director of Events and Public Programming. It’s a busy life, balancing an art practice and a demanding career. “Sometimes I feel like it’s a Vaudeville act where I spin 5 plates in the air on ten-foot poles all while playing the banjo,” she writes.

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Yet most of the time, for Xochi, it feels natural and rhythmic as she seeks to find small similarities in each job. “They both begin with a tiny spark of an idea and a vision for greatness,” she writes. “The skills I craft with one position feed the other and vice versa.”

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It’s an inspired outlook to compare administrative tasks with brush strokes, sweeping meaning into each act and creating something anew. And it makes me think of my own life – how writing often feeds various parts of my soul, overlapping into other jobs and duties and tasks. How much more enjoyable would answering emails be if I considered each reply a blank page awaiting an inspired thought? If each checkmark on my to do list wasn’t a stamp of productivity, but instead a mark of purpose?

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Finding what you love, it seems, is the easy part. But infusing your life with that passion – amidst deadlines and voicemails and oven timers – is perhaps where things get tricky. But maybe that’s where intention comes into play?

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“I am continuously inspired by my surroundings and make a concentrated effort to let the present moment resonate with me,” Xochi writes. “I am very aware that every single detail that floods my senses from sunup to sundown has importance and how I perceive this world around us is mine alone. Bad or good, sunny or stormy, this world is pretty marvelous and I try to take my observations and make something unique and true for me.”

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Xochi’s paintings are the result of those observations – layered and abstract, colored with intent. And although we can’t all paint with a trained hand, creativity isn’t necessarily defined by an artist palette, is it? “Cooking a meal, arranging bedroom furniture, picking out what you are going to wear for the day, these are all using creative parts of your brain,” Xochi writes. “I would say it’s sort of in the pores of [our] skin.”

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And I think Xochi’s right. I think making space for creativity might be inevitable, because we’re already doing it. We’re all artists, sculpting with words and memories and perspectives – shaping and re-shaping our canvas each day. Layered and abstract, colored with intent.

Image Credits: Xochi Solis

p.s. More abstract work from Diana Delgado, Yago Hortal and Mauro Bonacina.

  • What appeals to me about this living with intention in creativity is that it is very much a gendered view compared to the traditional model of being an artist.

    Jackson Pollock had Lee Krasner. Picasso had his women. The old model for the highly creative professional artist is one who commits 100% of his time to his work. And has a partner who looks after the administrivia of day-to-day life.

    That somehow there is no value in making a home or caring for a family or doing the day-to-day of having a life. That 100% focus 100% of the time is what is meant to be aspired to.

    I’m not saying one is better than the other but I believe that the art that we DO end up creating is richer for being engaged/living with intention in all parts of our lives.

    Well, I AM saying it’s better! Hah! The old model seems almost like an idiot savant where (sweeping generalization) all they can do is produce art in a vacuum. And it feels like a vacuum to me – a life without the mundane and the day-to-day.

    To make art, to live creatively isn’t to be an angel in the heavens. If it’s grounded in that day-to-day living with intention no matter what the task, then it’s so much richer.

    • Oh wow – such a beautiful comment, Sandra – thank you for sharing this history! You’re totally right, I think – and although it likely comes down to personal style and workflow, it’s important to embrace the mundane as well. And you’re right – doesn’t everything beautiful stem from small and good intentions? ;)

  • Lovely read and a lovely woman to feature – I worked very briefly with Xochi when she first took over at the UT VAC and she is really a fantastic presence.

  • Wauw. Another great story and great artist. Also nice comment by Sandra!
    I want to thank you for your stories lately. Not only are they nice to read, I feel that they somehow support me. We seem to be making a same sort of evolution – as probably many woman around the globe.
    I actually am an architect (:-) we don’t have such a thing as “career day”, but I have always wanted to be one and now I am), but about a year ago I realized that through all the deadlines and construction problems and so on, I missed creativity. I missed making things myself, with my hands. Because of that I started blogging and after that I started making things again. That can be al sort of things (photography, painting, decorating, crafting,…) It is difficult to make time for it. But I need it, also for my job. I am still searching my way, don’t know which way it will go, don’t know if I will keep my job as architect, combining all those things with being a mother… But it’s an interesting path to follow and I find it very inspiring that you are searching too.
    (I am a dutch-speaking girl, so pardon me if the english writing isn’t all that great.)

    • Oh, thank you so much, Liesbeth! I so appreciate your note (and agree – Sandra’s comment was so interesting!). Here’s to searching together, yes?

  • Well, I think create is a need for some people (for me too). But you are in true. How difficult its to combine with daily work! (office, home, babies).
    But all is a pathway, and I’m sure we can find our own expression.

    Thank you for your comments, I fell fine reading it.
    Like Liesbeth, I’m a spanish-speaking woman, so sorry for me english too.

    Have a nice day for all!

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