We're going to see bell hooks speak tonight. I found this article about design online a year ago and really enjoyed it.
"Today design has little meaning for masses of people for whom interbeing seems only a romantic dream as they scramble to fulfill materialistic fantasies, believing, as everything teaches them to, that consuming is the only way to ecstasy. Sorrow stirs in me every time I face the myriad ways in which advanced capitalism removes the cultural conditions that would enable everyone, including the poor, to have access to learning an aesthetic appreciation of design."
Within this article she talks a lot about design being something we are born with but must be fostered in order to maintain our gifts. She points out how class comes into play in that regard in this day and age.
"...I think about the way in which class often over-determines our relationship to design. It is hard to imagine that as late as the fifties it was still possible for families without much money to own an exquisitely designed chair or table. Today, there is no design for everybody."
I have been contemplating this question for years... What determines our aesthetic taste, what determines how we relate to design, art, creativity... the visual world? What determines how we see things and how does that effect what we create? Is it nature or nurture and where does this stuff intersect and how?
As you may know I make my living as a graphic designer and being a very visually oriented person I spend a great deal of my time looking, thinking about looking and in turn creating things to look at. However, I come from a background in which creativity was not fostered. My parents simply did not care about their environment... did not think about design, aesthetics... anything. It wasn't that they had never been exposed to it, it was that they had cut themselves off from their emotional life and as a result they did not have a need for creative thought... probably regarded it as a dangerous thing to avoid at all costs.
So having been raised in this environment, exactly how did I become the person I am? How is that even possible?
Having turned this stuff over and over in my head, nature vs nurture etc., the conclusion I keep coming to is that creativity in any form is the expression of the self inside us. We are all creative, or have the potential for creativity because we are emotional beings. And we use creativity in everything we do from how we perform the most mundane daily tasks to how we conceptualize the world... it is limitless. Expressing oneself creatively is living. However if you sever yourself from your emotions, for whatever reason (and many people have good reason to protect themselves in this way) you will find it difficult to be creative. You will be unable to express yourself because you will have lost a sense of self.
So in that matter I do believe that this stuff is innate. That our social and cultural upbringing informs and twists it, but that we all have this massive potential for creativity inside ourselves. And even if we lose it or get disconnected from it along the line, it can be found again.