10 Rules For Nurturing Creativity by Sister Corita Kent

art department rules


I recently discovered this list of 10 rules that are about nurturing creative spirit. Reading over them made me contemplate my practice and areas where I could "round" myself out as a creative person. Which of these rules are familiar to your practice? Which are the most foreign to your creative practice? These rules were created by celebrated artist and educator Sister Corita Kent and popularized by the phenomenal artist, composer, and writer, John Cage.


The first rule is interesting to me, I see it as highly metaphorical. "Find a place you trust and then try trusting it for a while." I have seen other interpretations of this rule but to me I think of my creative journey. I think of it as trusting the "places" you come to while being creative...especially when stumbling on a new idea. Instead of just moving past the idea and onto the next one can you stay in this place for a while - trust that it is valuable and has something to offer. Working in series is a great manifestation of this idea. I may be misinterpreting the writer's intention, but it works for me in this sense.


I can say that rule 7 ( the only rule is work) has been a good rule that I have used and benefitted from over the past year. When in doubt - creat work. When nervous about your career - create work. When frustrated with your work - create new work.


Rule 8 (don't create and analyze at the same time) is such a good piece of advice. Trying to create and analize at the same time can cause long periods of hesitation. I find myself sufferring from this situation sometimes and uncertain about how to move forward in a piece. It is uncomfortable. The only way to move forward to either sit back and give in to pure analysis of the challenge at hand or plunge in and "work" through the challenge with action.


I love this list of rules and can see why John Cage adopted them for his own purposes. There is a loving and compassionate tone to these instructions which is in opposition to the inner critic. You can feel the spirit of Sister Corita Kent encouraging you to nurture your creative spirit. I urge you to revisit this list next time you are feeling lack lustre about your creative life, who knows what insight it might provide at a time like that?

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Written by: rebecca chaperon
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