Creative Development Through the Practice of Immersion.

May 12, 2019

 

At the outset of an artist’s initial baptism into their calling, there is a honeymoon phase, in which passion comes easily. In order to extend that passion over time beyond self into a ripple effect towards the betterment of the culture, the practice of immersion is necessary through the daily exercise of individual gifts, continual study of craft, active self-awareness and deliberate self-care. Although par for the course towards facilitating artistic growth and development, the practice of immersion in craft is also accompanied by a level of displacement and disruption of an artist’s environment, and at times, the culture which the artist is serving.

 

Immersion was a practice that was demonstrated throughout Christ’s ministry—made visible through a disciplined lifestyle of prayer, fasting, self-care, and rest. As outlined in scripture, he regularly made a practice of drawing away from the crowds to commune in prayer and dialogue with the Creator. This level of immersion reinforced and strengthened his relationship and connection with the Creator—the source of his truth and power—which created a ripple effect that resulted in the displacement of natural law and cultural limitations whenever and wherever he exercised his gifts and insight towards the enlightenment and salvation of humanity through his teaching, healing, and ministering of the sick, blind and those in spiritual need.

 

Jazz master, composer, arranger and pianist Bill Evans regularly utilized the practice of immersion over the course of his career, drawing his influence from literature, religion, and fine arts, as well as classical music. He often secluded himself in study during periods of musical transition, as demonstrated when he abruptly left his residency with the Miles Davis sextet for a period of introspection and reexamination of technique, before later rejoining the sextet for the creation and recording of the jazz classic, Kind of Blue. These periods of hibernation steered his development of the harmonic linguistics and technique that would influence his peers and future jazz musicians. Evans spoke on the importance and benefits of immersive study, per a featured quote within the jazz instructional book “Metaphors for the Musician” by Rand Halberstadt:

 

“I always like people who have developed long and hard, particularly through introspection and a lot of dedication. I think that what they arrive at is usually...deeper and more beautiful...than the person who seems to have that ability and fluidity from the beginning. I say this because it's a good message to give to young talents who feel as I used to. You hear musicians playing with great fluidity and complete conception early on, and you don't have that ability. I didn't. I had to know what I was doing. And ultimately it turned out that these people weren't able to carry their thing very far. I found myself being more attracted to artists who have developed through the years and become better and deeper musicians. I believe in things that are developed through hard work."

 

The practice of immersion also plays a large part in forming an artist’s identity and realization of purpose. Rap icon, actor and poet, Tupac Shakur, was able to realize his purpose during a period of immersion during his incarceration, prior to his death. During this involuntary seclusion, he was able to crystalize his identity through study and self-analysis, resulting in the discovery of his creative truth as an artist, towards the liberation of the culture. The resulting ripple effect of his voice and artistry cross-culturally over the generations was  produced through his active pursuit and dedication towards his art and self-actualization as an artist. His ability to marry the truth of his experience and his art resulted in an undiluted authenticity that immunized his art and identity against destructive criticism and “deer in the headlights” admiration or fan-worship--an authenticity which still resonates with listeners in the present.

 

The practice of immersion ensures evolution and artistic effectiveness through every plateau of artist development, resulting in a fully realized expression of individual gifts that radiate over time from within.

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