Lake Norman Currents February 2017

Page 24

make a Mess

Participating in Beauty Tyler Helfrich uses her creativity to see by Rosie Molinary photography by Lisa Crates The words wouldn’t come.

FEBRUARY 2017

22 LAKE NORMAN CURRENTS

After receiving a degree in English with a focus on poetry from Davidson College and serving as the director of the Artworks 945 program at the Urban Ministry Center, a nonprofit whose mission is to end homelessness in Charlotte, for three years, Tyler Helfrich decided to leave the intense experience to open a space for her own creativity. “I thought that I would be writing poetry. I ended up painting instead,” Helfrich recalls of that 2012 transition. “I feel like I got into painting because I needed a safe place to fail. It was part of healing.” Now, while her professional endeavors include being both an artist and interior designer through Tyler Helfrich Art and Design and owning Davidson’s Summit Coffee with her husband, Brian, Helfrich finds that her creativity most profoundly informs how she lives her everyday life. “Creativity helps me be more whole as I approach parenting or relationships, to have more understanding, and to not generalize. One thing that is essential in creativity is being present,” she explains. “A lot of times in our world right now, we are answerable on every level, all the time. Having the opportunity to do just one thing and be all there is a really good practice. Life is so scattered. To just do one thing feels kind of sacred.” Though Helfrich took a

Behind the Davidson artist and interior designer Tyler Helfrich says creativity informs how she sees her everyday life.

few art and design classes throughout her life, she is mostly self-trained. When she arrives at her studio each day, she takes the first hour to reply to email, create invoices and complete other administrative work. Later, she moves to her creative work. For her process, Helfrich typically has an abstract painting and a representational painting — her coffee farmer paintings can be seen at Summit Coffee and she’s also known for her cow paintings. “The way that I use art is learning how to see. The first way it helps me to see is seeing the exterior world — its dynamic and nuance. Then it helps me to see the interior world, and it helps me to have clarity,” she says. “I hit a wall often in the middle of a painting. The benefit of having multiple jobs is that I can go

work on something else. Some days you just don’t have it, so I recognize that as an experience and let it be. Concretely, it means go do something else, and mentally it means trusting it.” Helfrich also insists that creativity is not just something that certain people have. Not only is everyone creative, but everyone has a responsibility for their creativity because it makes a difference in our world. “People are tempted to say that I am a creative person or not, and that’s just not true. People are prone to think that creativity is art or dance. Creativity means problem solving and beauty gathering,” she says. “That is essential for the human experience, for not generalizing, because your heart needs beauty. We each have an opportunity to participate in that.”

Process When you were 10 years old, what was your favorite way to be creative? Building forts. What’s a good way to be more creative every day? Bake without a recipe. What creative resource has been most helpful to you? The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. What is something that will enhance someone’s life in an unusual way if they do it? Make something without caring about what the outcome is. Whether it is collage or painting, put it together in a way that speaks to you. What has creativity taught you? It is teaching me to see, to challenge what I think I see and to spend time realizing what I actually see.


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