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  • Writer's pictureAllison Stratton

Creative Scars Halted My Growth

Updated: Dec 17, 2022


I put making art in a box in my head and put it up on a shelf of things "I once thought I was good at, but something made me not believe that anymore." Actually, it was a slow packing process before I put it there and every once in a while when feeling nostalgic, I would take it down for a minute and peak into the art portion.


Focusing my time and energy on band in middle school and into high school, art classes wouldn't fit into the spaces left between music and generals. My obsession with music and photography and indie films drew me back into the art world, so I quit band halfway into my junior year of high school and took a drawing class instead. The art teacher chose me to attend a special workshop at an arts-focused school along with kids from other schools. I was so flattered to be seen and given a glimmer of hope that maybe I was good at arting after all.


This shift in my interests and rekindled creative confidence led to applying to attend the University of Minnesota-Morris for my senior year, through the Post-Secondary Education Option program at my high school. When I was accepted, I decided to take the first semester of art school there. It was wonderful. And intimidating. The Art Discussion class is something I still think about - I could have the "what is art?" conversation way more than most normal humans are willing to endure.


My heart burst when I found out that the little "fold paper into thirds and draw funny creatures" game my little brother and I played for hours when we were in grade school is actually a surrealist creativity technique called Exquisite Corpse. It felt so validating - I've been doing this since a I was little! I also love picturing Salvador Dali and his buddies sitting around a table drawing silly creatures as part of their art process.


When I started the Interior Design B.S. program at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities, I entered into a photo project where myself and a handful of other freshmen captured our first semester in photographs. From that project, I was also invited to show a couple of those photos in a gallery showing. For over a decade, I thought this was a fluke. A random cool thing that I stumbled upon by luck, not talent.

Sometimes, people remember a specific moment when they decided, as children, that they weren’t creative. Rather than be judged, they simply withdrew. They stopped thinking of themselves as creative at all. - Tom Kelley & David Kelley, Creative Confidence

I experienced a wounding to my ego, leading to what the Kelleys call a "creative scar". What happened? Someone I was dating and chose not to date anymore, of course. A roommate in sophomore year of college introduced us, and when I said nope after a couple dates, he apparently decided to heal his wounds by jabbing at an already soft spot of mine. Said roommate came into my room a few days later and shared with me how this boy-child felt about my art. He felt it was shit. Thanks for sharing, roomie.


It was the perfect foundation of depression, anxiety, and loneliness to let that scorned person's comment hurt me. Imposter syndrome set in and I started to gaslight myself about my previous art wins. I withdrew from sharing my art and focused on the more technical side of creativity in Interior Design.


Spoiler alert, that scar healed eventually and art for art's sake found its way back to me. The journey back will be the subject of my next post!

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