Through the years I have been creatively inspired by many things: a beautiful sunset, a tender human moment, a work of art, a song on the radio, a passing comment by a stranger or a passage in a book or newspaper. During my sophomore year of film school I received the creative inspiration for my film Gun, while I was listening to the Beatles' Happiness is a Warm Gun on the stereo and reading a newspaper article about handgun violence. Suddenly, I saw a series of images in my mind's eye, which then unfolded into a series of stories. The rest of the story solidified when I rented a Magnum 44 prop gun and held it in my hand. I felt a powerful force inherent in the gun, which further inspired me to attempt to capture this presence on film. Throughout the entire process of making the film I felt guided by a creative spirit, receiving inspiration at each step along the way.
|Rembrandt’s The Night Watch|
Art is contemplation.
It is the pleasure of the mind which searches into nature
and which there divines the spirit
of which Nature Herself is animated.
- Auguste Rodin
Months later, I had a similar inspirational guidance experience at the foot of Michelangelo’s David in Florence, Italy. Again, I felt a powerful presence in the work of art. Michelangelo and his David were alive in the stone. As I circled the towering figure, every angle revealed another emotional reality, from great courage to hidden fears. I spent the entire day with David; walking around him; sitting and gazing at him from different angles; and meandering through the gallery of Michelangelo’s other sculptures.
|Michelangelo’s David and unfinished sculptures|
I saw the angel in the marble
and carved until I set him free.
- Michelangelo Buonarroti
The instructor went on to say that Michelangelo also felt that a work was complete when he had learned the lesson he needed to learn, so sometimes he would leave a piece physically unfinished because he was finished with it internally. This, he added was a blessing for humanity, because without these unfinished works we wouldn’t understand how he created his masterpieces. Somehow, this information was exactly what I needed to hear in that moment. The lecture combined with the visceral experience of the sculptures gave me guidance for my life as an artist and my journey of the spirit.
Excerpt from the book The Search for a Divinely Guided Life by Mark Allan Kaplan, Ph.D.