Creativity can be learned!
That is the opinion of my friend Kabir Ramz - a wonderful Afghan artist, who has made the launch of the Artisan Toolkit a much easier endeavour.
He says, "When I joined Kabul University I loved artists such as Shishkin and Rembrandt. I spent hours and days copying them until one day I realized I am never going to be either of them - I am going to be Kabir Ramz and I have to start right now. I began to make my own art. Instead of copying others' art I began to really look at what they were doing and how they were doing it! If you want to be a good artist you have to be a good spectator... Inhale the inspiration around you."
While running our Artisan Toolkit training workshops in Kabul this week, we asked the artisans to bring in the products they had made. Their technical skills were excellent, and they made high quality products, but many were making the same products, based off of other products they had seen. We saw this not as a bad thing at all, but rather a great opportunity. The talent is clearly there and so is the inspiration. A rich cultural history is ready to inspire us, we need only give them a little encouragement!
Kabir tells us, “I feel that one of the most important things we lost in the many years of conflict was creativity and it is only through creativity that we - especially the Afghan craft sector - can catch up and make our mark on the world. No one can do this for us. I strongly believe that creativity can be learned and that we as Afghans have to take the lead! It is our history, our culture and our future!"