Filling the Void in the Image Bank

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Neol is a community of creatives with courageous souls who want to make the world better by doing the best work of their lives. Our mission with the event series Creative Sparks is to bring together creative leaders who are shaping the world and ignite discussions on how creativity and design can lead to positive change.

Our third Creative Sparks event explored how art can uncover gaps and explore unanswered questions in our creative design. Through our conversation, we discussed 6 ways that art impacts our perspectives and ability to pay attention, while magnifying our opportunities to create impactful change. We were privileged to talk with two creative leaders, Remi and Tara, to answer the question:

How can we leverage art to uncover our gaps and biases and tackle the unanswered questions in our creative processes?

Remi Carlioz, vice president and global creative director of HEYDUDE, is a multidisciplinary award winning conceptual creative director and a brand strategist. He has led many multi-channel campaigns as a creative director across Lifestyle, Sports, and Travel, as well as the campaigns of major global celebrities such as Rihanna, Lizzo, and Selena Gomez. Tara Aldughaither is an independent creator and a founder of the artistic research, documentation, and production platform, Sawtasura, which focuses on women's musical and performance histories in the region of Saudi Arabia. Through our conversation with these two inspiring souls, we delved deeply into their experience of art and its impact on them. From their inspiration, we talked about 6 of the ways that art can impact us.

Art impacts our creativity by:

  1. Uncovering our creative and ideological gaps, then filling the voids
  2. Allowing us to be creative within our constraints
  3. Creating access to new voices by removing pedestals 
  4. Highlighting the beauty in the mundane
  5. Communicating depth with simplicity, without always being confrontational
  6. Connecting us, like breaking bread together

Uncovering the gaps

As a photographer, Remi often describes his perspective of the world through the terminology of images. He spoke about how growing up in a traditional household left him with gaps in his image bank. “What I've done for the past decades is try to fill this void and discover different perspectives, different outlooks of life: like filling the void in the image bank,” he shared. By pursuing a wide range of artistic media, he began to recognize the lack of representation, lack of awareness, and lack of voices within his context, and it encouraged him to keep expanding.

For Tara, a lot of art is about filling the gaps and highlighting the people who have fallen into them. She shared many art pieces that gave a voice to a previously unspoken story. One example is a video she played during our meeting of a young girl dancing in Saudi Arabia (You can watch here). Tara referenced that for her, this piece “filled the gap …because it kind of revealed the private space of a young girl in the context of Saudi Arabia.” What was previously unspoken and unnamed, inaccessible to outsiders, became a piece of art that connected people.

Removing pedestals

Art equalizes us, yet we still build pedestals around some art and devalue others. Through museums, art institutions, and fine art galleries, there often is an aloof narrative around art. Tara and Remi share an equal distaste for this inaccessibility and reflect on the impact that social media and TV have had in giving everyone access to art. 

“Most of the tears come from intimate spaces.” Tara said, speaking of the art that has been most meaningful to her. It is within the personal spaces, the daily life, and the expression of authenticity that we convey truth. We can find that truth in every aspect of daily life, as well as in museums. 

One major role of the creative leader is to be an advocate for equalization.

As creatives, we are challenged to make this art accessible, diminishing the separations between museums and the mundane in order to express our real humanity.

The beauty in the mundane

“Beauty can be found in the most simple, mundane places; like in the street, at a store, a neon sign, a detail, a factory, a landscape reflection on the pavement after the rain,” Remi shared. When you view the world through the lens of art, you start to notice the “mystery of the ordinary,” and are provoked to capture it. By developing this appreciation, you start to see incredibly small details and how impactful they are to our perspectives as a whole. 

During COVID-19, “video, film, and music became the…most direct thing to consume,” Tara added, “it’s always daily life because you're at home consuming this.” During the period where we were quarantined within our homes, the only form of art that we could access was the ordinary kind, which forced us to appreciate the beauty within the everyday walls we live in.

Creativity always comes from constraints

Remi used the example of an album cover to illustrate how artistic we can be within strict constraints. An album cover is just a small square of space that needs to carry immense meaning, and yet this art continues to be an iconic representation of the musicians they are made for. “Creativity always comes from constraint,” Remi said, “whether it's budget or location or talent or cast or time.” We function within strong boundaries within our world and it challenges us to creatively find new solutions, new expressions, and new ways to create positive change.

When Tara shared the video of the girl dancing, she called it “constraint within the domestic space,” which was one of the main draws of the video for her. It displayed a mundane normal life that the young girl is constrained inside, which pushed her to create beauty with the constraint (in this case, an expression of radical pleasure through dancing and movement).

When we recognize our constraints and work with them it allows us to renew our perspectives, changing how we creatively interact with our projects.

Depth in simplicity

As they shared before, beauty is a simple thing that can be found everywhere. And yet, when you look closely, this simplicity tells a story full of depth and impact. Art has the potential to carry subtle truth and meaning when we stop ourselves from getting in the way. Often our simplest work leaves the most space for it to be digested and understood by others.

Remi illuminates this with the artwork Untitled Perfect Lovers, by Felix Gonzalez Torres, a piece that shows two clocks slowly falling out of sync with one another—a metaphor for the loss of his long-term partner to AIDS. Though the artwork is simply two clocks, it is able to communicate the pain and unfairness of lost time with an eloquence we understand and relate to.

Breaking bread together

There is something about sharing meals with others that binds us together. When we have dinner, we sit, we talk, and we connect. We discover our commonalities and the things that make us unique. 

Remi used the analogy of breaking bread as a way to explain the dynamic of artistic connection: 

“Art helps you break bread and trigger conversation…When you break bread, you share a meal, or you look at art together, [you realize] that you're not that different after all.”

Though we have access to such a vast array of art throughout our world, we continue to see the threads of humanness that connect us all. This breaking of bread illuminates our understanding of diversity, our continued need for accessibility within art, and the reality that we are most inspired when we are together.

Remi, Tara, and our Neolians shared some stunning works of art with us within our gathering, breaking bread together as a creative community. We shared our time, our art, and our perspectives in a way that challenged us to uncover our gaps, build accessibility and diversity within our artistic channels, pay attention to the mundane, work with our constraints, pursue simplicity, and continue to break bread alongside our artistic community. 

If you were inspired by our conversation about how art influences our creativity, you will love what we have coming up in this event series. Join Neol’s community to connect, build your creativity, and spark your curiosity!

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