Terri Hardin, Everyone Is An Artist, So Why Do So Many Say They Aren’t?

Written by Terri Hardin Jackson. Posted in Terri Hardin

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Published on July 16, 2014 at 1:00 am with 4 Comments

UPDATE:  First of all ALERT, ALERT. Tomorrow July 17th. Is Disneyland’s 59th Birthday . . . Whoo Hoo!  I will be at the Park from 9am – 4pm to celebrate.  I’ll be hanging around coke corner.  How do I celebrate? By seeing all of YOU of course.

So if you’re in the area, celebrating Disneyland’s Birthday too, then please, please come by and say hello.  If you have a sculpture of mine itching for an autograph bring it along, buy me a cool coffee drink and I’ll be happy to autograph it for you.

I know that Bob Gurr is planning on dropping by with Combat Radio Host Ethan xxx around the noon hour.  If you time it right, you can get his autograph as well.  I will have a few of my books on hand (what author wouldn’t), so you can grab one and have both Bob and I sign it if you’d like. Bob’s not in the book, but who cares, He’s Famous!!

Bob and I will also be around for a benefit dinner for Ryman Arts the evening of July 16th, at the Wyndham Anaheim – Garden Grove (Formerly the Crowne Plaza Resort in Garden Grove). It’s being hosted by the Disneyana Fan Club, so if you happen to be going to that, do swing by my table and say hello.  Don’t forget to bring lots of money to bid on some really Disney collectibles.  Herbie Ryman was my mentor and I get to tell a story or two about my amazing time with him in my Imagineer Days. This event will host many, many famous legends and non – legends.

I once dreamt that I was a Disney Legend and then I woke up. Alas I soon realized that I am a legend in my own mind.  That makes me delusional.  Ugh oh!

Finally, I’m in the process of writing Volume II of Tales From Terri: A Disney Sculptor’s Life, plus I’m reworking the cover of Volume I after speaking with many of you.  Thanks for the help.  I’ll keep you posted as to when the new one will be out.

Everyone Is An Artist, So Why
Do So Many Say They Aren’t?

I know I promised to talk about my life with Star Wars, but something happened to me that hit me in the head like a frying pan.  So please go with me this time and I promise to tell you all about Star Wars next article.

Have you ever been watching something or listening to somebody when all of a sudden you’re hit with a thunderbolt?  I mean, right out of the blue, you’re hit by lightning.  Well last week this happened to me.

Many of you may know that I often do a talk called, Everyone is An Artist, I Can Prove it. I speak on how if you don’t believe you’re an artist, it’s because you’re listening to the wrong voices.  “Give me two hours and let me put my voice in your ear and I show you just how creative you are. “

I’m often asked why is it so important for every human being to be creative in some way.  I used to say, because it just is.  I know this is true, because I’ve seen many people come in to take my pumpkin sculpting class for example, and they are shaking with the fear. They don’t want to look silly or screw up. “I can’t draw a straight line, I’m not an artist,” they plead.  I tell them I have their back and to take my hand as I won’t let them fall, I promise.

After I’ve sat them down and worked with them on their very first pumpkin. They realize that they’ve done it.  They walk taller and smile more and many are just giddy with happiness and go on to write books, make jewelry or other creative venues. The world just opens up for them.  Is this you? Is this what you say?  If so I hope to have you in my class one day.

Just recently I got hit with a thunderbolt. WHAM!

I love America’s Got Talent.  I have to confess that I don’t watch a lot of TV but my husband works on promoting this show (shameless plug for my husband who has been with NBC for over 20 years and has over a dozen Emmys, Yea!), this is how I came to love it. We must give thanks to the companies that take care of us, so I often test out the shows he promotes for NBC.

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So there I was watching it like I do every week, it’s the audition phase and this is my favorite part.

As I watched week after week, I began to notice something tickling me at the back of my mind but I couldn’t lay my finger on it just yet.

During one show a young girl walked to the middle of the stage carrying a guitar.  She was 15 I think, and she said that up until one year ago, she suffered from the disease where you are terrified to leave your home.

She said that she was so terrified she wouldn’t leave her bed, let alone the house.  She became suicidal and her parents were at wits end as to how to help her, their minds going to the dark side, what if?

Have you ever been in that position where you’re with someone you love, and you know they’re going down the rabbit hole just like Alice, but you have no idea how to help them?  Perhaps you’ve tried everything and nothing works.  The agony is the same as your heart breaks over and over again.

So it was with this young girl. Then one day someone gave her a guitar, and her world changed.  She began to plink it, then learn it, then sing along with it.

Now there she was, on the TV, off of her bed and out of her house.  All better she said, all better.

My dream was to sing in front of people she said and there she was standing on that giant stage on one of the biggest shows on TV just one year later. Her parents smiling from the wings.

She began to sing and she sang like an angel.  Everyone cheered, many cried. I cried.

Many of the judges came and hugged her.  She had done it, she was going to Vegas.

But she had done something more….She had survived.

Click, something went off in my head but I just could get a hold of what it was.  I shook it of and continued to watch the show.

Soon after a young man crossed to the center of the stage.  This guy was built.  You know the kind, the bodybuilder type.  He looked Hawaiian to me, a great big smile on his face.  He looked very happy.  Ever notice how Hawaiians always look happy.  They come from Hawaii so what’s not to be happy about I guess.  He was wearing fatigues.

Everyone including me thought he was going to do some sort of dance, as many of the men that look like him often do.  However, this guy we learned, was going to sing.

He explained that he had literally just gotten back from Afghanistan or some scary crazy country where they shoot at you.  Wow!

I must take a moment here to say thanks to all of you who have served or do serve in our Military.  If it was up to me to fight as you all do, I’d like to think that I would step up.  But I’m not so courageous as that so I’m not sure.  Again, thank god you are, and thank you for all you do.  God Bless You. 

So there he stood, the young, handsome smiling Army guy. He told the story of how he had been singing ever since he was a tiny child.

Once deployed he sang.  He first sang to calm himself and to drive away his fear.  Soon he realized that when the men were scared or longed for their home so far away or his buddies were fearful, he would sing to them.  This helped to calm them.  It kept us safe, he said.

He began to sing, and the voice was so unbelievably amazing.  You would expect his voice to be rich and deep.  After all this guy was BIG.

However the voice that came out was a high tenor voice or perhaps alto.  All I know is that it was high pitched and like silk.

One of the most incredible sounds I’d ever heard.  Again the tears came to my eyes and again, Click.

It hit me, but this time it was the thunderbolt. WHAM!

Now I understand. Now I can say why everyone must have creativity and art in their lives. If you’re a human being it’s essential.

Why?

Because we continue to hear that someone got angry and he or she shot up a theater or a post office or the place they used to work.  That two people walked in and shot two policemen having lunch just because they were policemen.  That Chicago ranked #1 in the city with the most shootings over the 4th of July holiday weekend. What’s also shocking about Chicago is that the shootings didn’t happen on the 4th of July like one might think, all but 5 happened on Sunday July 6th.

Time after time day after day these stories seem more and more regular. Countless people taking out their anger on a lot of innocent folks and then killing themselves.

I believe this is happening more and more because of the continuing lack of the arts and creativity in the classroom and the workplace.

Before you come down on me and tell me this is ridiculous, do hear me out.

We had access to the arts when I was growing up.  Yes we were exposted to assassinations’ and these were terrible. However, I cannot recall having so much of the “I hate the world cause…so let me go out and shoot up the city” type shootings.

We don’t have art in our classrooms anymore, and or workplaces in many cases are stress-inducing cubicles that leave us tired and lifeless after a days work instead of being a place of collaboration in many cases.

Imagine a child in school who doesn’t fit in or you have some sort of challenge in your life, like our girl who sang on America’s Got Talent. All around them are sports type classes and events, but no arts. What if sports just were not an option?  For me they sure weren’t.

Nowadays the arts are disappearing from the classroom, if not gone already. I thank God I they were there for me,  because I was mercilessly bullied and it was the arts and my creative attitude that helped me to rise above adversity and become a Hollywood performer and Disney artist.

Now imagine that because there is no outlet it seems like the problem this child has just festers and grows with no way to prevent this downward spiral.  Perhaps growing into something dangerous.

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This young girl said she was suicidal until she found the guitar and began to play it.  Creativity blooms and this new found joy of singing and playing grows and consumes that problem festering deep within her until it no longer has a place to live.  Gone!  No more thoughts of suicide.

It doesn’t matter what you profession is, if you are a human being you need some creativity in your life.  If you don’t have this, you’re missing a little piece in your genetic puzzle.

I’ve noticed that Disney collectors and enthusiasts are incredibly creative.

So I welcome your thoughts and ask you to comment here and share them here. Let people know how being creative has helped you live in the world where it’s not always easy and can often be challenging.

If you’re someone who believes that you aren’t an artist, then I encourage you to share that here as well and I hope you will consider trying something creative and changing that for yourself.  You can do it.  You just have to believe in yourself as I believe in you.

Thanks for reading. I truly appreciate all of you.  I promise, next time I write it will be about Star Wars and how one lone film, by a guy named George Lucas changed my life.

FEEDBACK

Thank you to all who commented on my last article about the Maleficent film.

Thanks for having my back as I now correct my error, Angelina sorry about the misspelling of you name.

Also I was very impressed on how many of you loved the movie but then sort of realized there were things that just didn’t add up and shared those insights with me.

Those of you who did agree with me also were very good in stating that which I could not and I am grateful for that as well.

I have to agree with many of you that I’m very tired of films eagerly waiting for someone else to take a chance and then jumping on that bandwagon so we’re inundated with the same type. Wicked was fantastic. We don’t need every villain to be a product of the same formula. I also feel this goes for Vampyres and Zombies as well.

In closing,  I’m grateful to you for your participation. I love reading all the different points of view.  I feel there’s nothing like a good debate.

Hope to see you at the Disneyana Expo this week, Dusty, Sam Gennawey, and other MiceChat authors and staff will all be speaking or attending. We hope you will too:  Disneymania Link

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About Terri Hardin Jackson

Terri Hardin has designed attractions as a Disney Imagineer from 1987-1997. She's also a Jim Henson Puppeteer and has worked on over 42 film and TV projects including Ghostbusters & Captain EO. She currently creates Disney collectables and plays a Foster Farms Chicken.

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4 Comments

Comments for Terri Hardin, Everyone Is An Artist, So Why Do So Many Say They Aren’t? are now closed.

  1. I really enjoyed your article and I completely agree with you. I am devastated that art no longer has a place in schools in the USA. I am Australian, and among other things. I teach Film, Television and Media studies (FTV) as well as Computer Studies, mostly web design in high school. These are very creative outlets for the kids and I have seen amazing work from kids who were very difficult to teach but when we found the right outlet they were changed people.

    One grade 9 female student who was particularly disruptive and argumentative became a model student when I started teaching Flash animation. I explained I always wanted to draw but never created anything that didn’t embarrass myself until I discovered how to draw in Flash and then I was able to turn those images into animation. I showed the class a simple car then showed them how to make it move from one point to another and back again. The change in this student was immediate, her images and animation became more complex very quickly, her entire attitude in class was different and she began to ask about advanced techniques. This creative outlet was exactly what she needed.

    At another school I was involved in the drama department. One of the older girls asked me if I would like to read some of her work after I had mentioned I was working on a script for an art film I intend to make. Her work was dark, especially for such a happy girl. She confided some horrific things from her life to me. Her psychiatrist had suggested she find a creative outlet as part of her recovery. writing and acting became that outlet and worked very well for her. She had found something beautiful in a world that had been so cruel to her and she had used it to survive.

    Even in my own world, the art film I mentioned, I was working on as therapy after my partner passed away in a drowning accident. My film will celebrate her life but the process of writing it helped me deal with the loss.

    So yes I totally agree with you when you say everyone needs a creative outlet.

  2. Terri,

    I am in complete agreement with you about the decline of arts education and the increase in … shall I say “social disruption”? I think you hit the nail on the head and expressed it so well when you mentioned the kid(s) for whom sports isn’t an appropriate outlet. I know when I was going to school, although I wasn’t bullied, I certainly had absolutely no interest in sports. Not in any of them. But I had drama class and that gave me a place to fit in, to be creative, to express myself and to meet people that I’m still friends with to this day (20 years later). I’ve shared this piece on my Facebook page because I think everyone should read it! Thank you!

  3. I couldn’t agree with you more Terri.

    I was recently named the Executive Director for the Center for Early Childhood Creativity and Innovation at the Walt Disney Birthplace (CECCI). Our mission is to provide a sense of creative purpose and accomplishment for at risk kids. Walt Disney’s own story is quite inspirational. Born in 1901 into an impoverished family in Chicago. Walt and 6 other Disney family members all lived in a single 2 bedroom house. Some might think of that as an oppressive situation for which there is no outlet. However, Walt and his brother Roy were able to use their creativity and love of animation to break through and achieve greatness. I think of Walt as a visionary. He was a man not afraid to follow his creative instincts and it delivered him from adversity.

    There’s no doubt that economic, political and social pressures need an outlet. There is no greater release valve than the arts. Getting in touch with your personal passions and expressing your soul in some way (art, music, theater, poetry, essay, voice, etc) is a way of centering yourself and releasing other pressures and stresses in your life.

    You absolutely have your finger on the issue Terri. It was an inspiring read and I’m so thankful to you for continuing to advocate for creativity in daily life. You are an inspiration and I so appreciate your positive and supportive outlook.

  4. Terri, I think your really right. It is a very sad state of affairs when Arts are being cut to bare bones or to nothing in schools and also in towns/cities, and I think I can see now that this could have a possible affect on how people turn out, and not giving a safe and creative outlet could definitely lead to destructive and unsafe behavior. Wow, I had never even thought about such a connection, but I bet if there were studies done it would totally support this theory. I will be encouraging my nephews and nieces to be creative and artistic in whatever ways they can get their hands on. Thanks so much for sharing this insight, i can’t wait to discuss this with my friends and colleagues with children! .Q