I have been dwelling on this thought for a long time. Both of my parents passed away 3+ years ago, within 6 months of each other. And when they left this world, my drive to create became overwhelming. It felt as if my ancestors were compelling me to focus on being an artist. I can’t explain it, but there is this powerful, driving force that is only happy/satisfied when I am immersed in being creative. And that led me to the question I posed for the title of this post:
How much of our Artistic Abilities are Genetic?
Both of my grandfathers had passed away before I was born. I only ‘knew‘ them through my parents and their memories of their respective fathers. My paternal grandfather was a landscaper and taught that skill to my father. In my mind, the unique thing about both of them was that they did more than just plant trees, plants, flowers in an appealing..yes artistic fashion…they added to the landscape with their own works, created by nature. My grandfather created what I call “lattice work from branches” for adornment to buildings and bridges. When I was a child, one of his footbridges over the duck ponds in Krape Park still remained. Walking over it, even studying it as a youngster, I was fascinated by how he took these gnarly branches and created delicate lattice work patterns for the sides of this foot bridge. At some point, the elements did their work on it and it had to be torn down and replaced. I don’t know if my folks ever got any pictures of it…I haven’t found any in the photographs they had yet….but when I was back after my mother’s death, I went to Krape Park. On the upper part of the park they had the picnic shelters and I knew my grandfather had a hand in building these. I was wandering around them and happened to look up and saw this………
To my delight, there was some of my grandfather’s lattice work!!! You can see some of the pieces are missing, but it was still there. And the branches had been painted…maybe to preserve their remaining integrity. When I was a child, the raw branch was exposed, bark and all, which I thought made these really cool. And I still find this so beautiful. The design, the symmetry. He was an artistic landscaper.
Fortunately, he passed this knowledge along to my father, Ed Schramm. Dad built a small scale version of that footbridge and put his own spin on it. But it had the lattice work sides and I just loved it. I marveled at how he was able to find the right branches to fit together and make it look so beautiful. I haven’t found any pictures of that either. I was able to watch him build it so it remains in my mind.
And then there is my maternal grandfather, Joseph Ehredt. He was a blacksmith…a farrier. Man I love that word farrier…just sounds so cool to me. A few years ago I found a reprint of an article announcing his marriage to my grandmother and they proudly announced he was a blacksmith by trade, bringing his young bride to a fine home.
All of this gets me back to my question. I am certain that some of my artistic tendencies/abilities are inherited from both grandfathers and my father. My mother was a registered nurse and she saw that I had artistic ability and encouraged it. I am thankful. And I know too that I have been blessed with this gift and that it does come from God. Whatever your beliefs… the Power, the Force in the universe, the Supreme Being….I feel very strongly that it is my responsibility to nurture the gifts I have been given, develop them, and share them with others.
It is my belief that my love of nature comes from the paternal side of my genealogy. And my awakened love of working with metal comes from my maternal genealogy. I want to honor them with my work. Yes, I believe my artistic abilities are rooted in my genes, a gift from God, and something I must continue to nurture.