Greenbelt artist Tom Baker began thinking a lot about the creative process when he painted a piece in response to a colleague's poem. The Gonzaga College High School art teacher was so inspired by the poem and the work it generated that he wanted to use the theme of artists responding to one another for an upcoming exhibition at the Greenbelt Community Center.
Because the idea was a bit complex, and because he wanted to include as many artists living or working in Greenbelt as possible, Baker, the show's curator, decided instead to find out what made other artists tick. The result: 11 artists developed new pieces while describing their artistic methods in narrative form for "Creative Process: New Works by Greenbelt Artists," which opens Saturday and runs through July 10. An opening reception will take place from 3 to 5 p.m. Sunday as part of the community center's monthly "Artful Afternoon" program.
"One of the things I wanted to do with the show was to share with the public what the creative process is, and just allow people to get in touch with their own creative process," Baker said.
"And I wanted to see where it would go. I would love to see more visual artists connect with musicians, dancers and poets and play actors and actresses, and just for the art, to play off of each other," said Baker, who is among the artists who contributed to the show. The others are: Barbara Bjanes, Dick Brown, Pauline Grant, Shin Yeon Jeon, Ted Kliman, Barbara McGee, Jean Newcomb, Shayna Skolnik, Barbara Stevens and Linda Uphoff. Their media include painting, drawing, watercolor and sculpture.
Baker hopes this exhibition, juried by Eileen Cave, president of the Hyattsville Community Artists' Alliance, fosters more collaboration among the artists in Greenbelt. After contemplating how he and his fellow artists develop their work, Baker considers such partnerships a real possibility.
"The creative process is never-ending. It's not just an event that takes place in one painting, but it takes place over the course of an artist's lifetime, and one artwork leads to another one, or one series leads to another," Baker said.
Hyattsville sculptor Jeon agrees.
"Previously finished pieces become a new starting point. Through the energy of continuous work, I develop shape, line and composition. I believe creating artwork is like rolling a snowball. As it rolls, it gets bigger and stronger," said Jeon, an artist-in-residence at the community center.
Another common thread among the artists is that they are motivated by self-reflection.
"Creating artwork gives me freedom and opportunities to find out about myself. This is my way to communicate with the outside world. . . . As I create, I can be myself and forget that I am a wife and a mother of two kids," Jeon said.
Similarly, Baker says he realized that the creative process helps him "unveil my life to me, and then my life in turn unveils the creative process."
His experience delving into creativity in his town has given Baker tangible proof that the Greenbelt art community is teeming with ideas.
"I think Greenbelt has a large number of artists of quality and of substance," he said. "I think this show will just be another step in bringing about greater cohesiveness within the artistic community."
"Creative Process" will be on display through July 10 in the Greenbelt Community Center, 15 Crescent Road, Greenbelt. The gallery is open from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily; admission is free. An opening reception will be held from 3 to 5 p.m. Sunday in the gallery. 301-397-2208.