Jung, Creativity and Play

Europa, Suzanne Edminster, acrylic on canvas, 36" x 36"
Europa, Suzanne Edminster, acrylic on canvas, 36″ x 36″

“The creation of something new is not accomplished by the intellect but by the play instinct acting from inner necessity. The creative mind plays with the objects it loves.” 

C.G. Jung, from Psychological Types

This quote made me pause.  When we lose play, and give it over to force, we lose our contact with the creative world.  On the other hand, the “inner necessity” has to include work and bringing the play or fantasy to  fruition.

“The creative mind plays with the objects it loves.”  This painting is called Europa.  I wanted somehow to play with the Greek myth of the bull swimming with an abducted river maiden— and play simultaneously with abstract form.  I experienced both these desires in a visceral, childlike way.  I wanted to physically play with the figures in the myth, like playing with dolls or action figures, and I wanted to splash paint and watch it pool and run.   The two plays came together in this painting.  (Sometimes they don’t.)

This painting, an abstract mythic narrative, will be shown at The Gallery of Sea and Heaven in their upcoming  Myth and Legend show opening February 16.  They took two paintings.  The other one is a private narrative , where the visuals construct a strange story; it did not exist until I collaged it.  In other words, there’s definitely a story, but I don’t know exactly what it means, like the  stories and plots of dreams.

I think of Jung with his Tower on the lake and his mandalas.  He loved to play, and having a rich wife didn’t hurt the cause of “playing” with architecture .  When we play, we always trust that the practicalities of survival will take care of themselves, like children. What “objects” do you love to play with?

12 thoughts on “Jung, Creativity and Play

  1. I love this, Suzanne! Absolutely love it. I see the whole play of the subconscious playing enthusiastically under a seemingly calm landscape. There are stories upon stories playing in that subconscious field.


    1. Hi Rosi– great to hear from you. I got lucky on this one. I think “Europa” resonated on so many levels– my early love of cattle, my years spent in Europe, even the travels in Turkey around the Straits of Bosphorus… bos means ox or cow– the water between Europe and Asia as cow-crossing.


  2. “I don’t know exactly what it means, like the stories and plots of dreams.”

    I do not neceassrily believe that the artis is essentially the best interpreter of their work. As artists we create, with the force and focus of divne play. And while we might glimpse into meaning — ultimately the painting has a separate life and a meaning of it own, that it reveals or veils to each viewer in various guises and different, divergent manifestations.

    Looking forward to seeing this exhibit! Vive l’art! Nishi


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