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Finding Freedom in a New Season

I host an artist residency each year, and we just started our new cohort last weekend. My fifth year directing the program, I have learned a thing or two. I’m going to let you in on a little-known secret about creative people: We desperately need boundaries.

When I began planning curriculum for our very first year of the artist residency, I intentionally left much of our programming open-ended. I wondered why I ended up having multiple one-on-one meetings clarifying the goals and purpose of the program with each artist. There was so much confusion about the program, and a low level of artistic output was produced. But here is another secret about creatives: We don’t know that we need boundaries. Because artists are “free” and “spontaneous”, right? Well, yes, but only if we feel safe.

For this year’s artist residency, we began with a very clear set of goals and an activity designed to bring clarity to the rhythm of the program. Immediately, our artists began to participate in deep and meaningful ways, and art ideas were overflowing in our evening conversations. Friends, boundaries are magic.

As we enter the autumn, I’m asking myself about boundaries. What kind of boundaries do I need in my creative practice? In my day job? In my family life? How can I build a clear rhythm of life, so that my creativity can flourish in safety?

How about you? In this new season, will you set some boundaries? I have come to believe – in all truth – that in the creative life, boundaries empower freedom.

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