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10th Muse

A Musing on Muses – Searching for Our Own Muse

by Ms. Terious



What a wonderful way to begin this new series by starting with the idea of Muses – who or what they are, and if each of us has the power to call forth our own internal or external Muse.

The idea of Muses springs from ancient Greek religion and mythology. They are the inspirational water nymphs turned goddesses of literature, science, and the arts who sprung from Zeus and Mnemosyne and were born in the four sacred springs located on Mount Helicon. The Roman scholar, Varro, declared there to be only three Muses but, I would much rather have the nine mentioned in Greek mythology for sources of inspiration: Calliope, Clio, Erato, Euterpe, Melpomene, Polyhymnia, Thalia, Terpsichore, and Urania.

Poets, painters, sculptors, lyricists, actors all have had the inspiration from what became known as Muses since the beginning of time.

Millais had Elizabeth Siddal who became ‘Ophelia’ in his Pre-Raphaelite painting. She later became the wife of Rossetti and her image has become ingrained as the perfection of a woman for this time period and this particular school of painters.

Camille Claudel, an artist in her own right was Rodin’s assistant, lover, and muse, inspiring many of his sculptures. Berthe Morisot was a muse to Edouard Manet and one of only two, Mary Cassatt being the other, women who became well known in the Impressionist world of art. And we could never forget Georgia O’Keeffe, artist and muse for her photographer husband, Alfred Stieglitz.

Kiki de Montparnasse, not only the muse for Man Ray, but for many other Surrealist artists demanded attention for herself, not just for the male artists she inspired. Dali, being Dali, did not have Kiki but rather Gala, his wife, as a muse who had inspired artists before Dali in the Surrealist movement.

Can a male be a muse? Maybe not in the times of ancient Greece but if you could have asked artist Francis Bacon who his muse was, he would have answered immediately, “George Dyer.”

Some artists become each other’s muses, such as in the case of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera.  Lee Miller became a student, lover, and muse, to Man Ray, replacing Kiki in the ‘30’s, and she herself went on to become a well-known photographer because of her studies with Ray. Together they discovered the photographic technique of solarization, which Ray stated was a means to ‘escape from banality’.

The muse is not always a human being, Jim Morrison, famous front man for The Doors, often called on the spirit world for inspiration in his music. So did Richard Strauss, Giacomo Puccini, and Gustav Mahler.

Finding your own muse is the internal and external search for something that will inspire artistic passions. Many people, not just artists, have courted the muse simply – or maybe not so simply – by tapping into that mysterious source of inspiration which all humans have.

Do you believe that everyone is an artist, or has a creative spark in their being? If so, then how do each of us find our muse or perhaps muses?

Something as simple as listening to beautiful music can inspire each of us to light the creative spark that lives in each and every soul. A trip to a museum or gallery, surrounding our sight with beautiful works, will surely inspire that creative moment. But remember, each of us has five senses and even the taste of something delicious can push us to want to put that moment into words or song, photography of the treat, or later recreating this delicious culinary moment on our own. The feel of velvet or silk can evoke memories or sensations that may spur you on to creating a wardrobe or accessories using those textures and also adding in colors as you further honor your sight. And smell! A fresh peach, a rose, baby powder, the favorite perfume or cologne of your partner. Take a moment to think of how each of these things awaken something within you. Something that makes you want to dance, sing, write, play with clay, put on beautiful clothing or create beautiful clothing, or maybe create a lovely meal. These are all examples of how the muse in each of us can be awakened.

Can our pets be muses? I certainly think so – Our fur, fin, and feather babies evoke strong feelings within us. And just think, if scientists are correct in stating that we have more than five senses, then perhaps everything we experience can become a spark in awakening our creativity and opening our channels to the spiritual and human muses along our way.

Even meditation, letting your mind release the chatter, and finding a moment of calm, empties you and gives the necessary room to fill back up with spiritual musings and ideas.

If you need further suggestions for channeling your own muse. I suggest a trip to Smith Gallery and Fine Custom Framing in New Cumberland to take in the beautiful art including an exhibit by Arlene Figueroa, an intuitive mixed media artist whose collection is called ‘Finding Her’. All of her paintings speak to the Muse who frees our creativity. And how absolutely synchronistic that one piece is entitled, ‘Behold What the Muse Imparts.’

Please visit the The Smith Gallery to view more art by these artists and many other talented artists and view our ArtTalks videos for conversations with artists.


The Tenth Muse was created to give inspiration, information and confidence to the reader.

This publication celebrates The Tenth Muse that is alive in all of us! She gives us the confidence to embrace going beyond the nine original muses.

Ms. Terious explores many subjects related to art and framing that can be used in the real world as you explore your own personal tastes and experiences without boundaries.

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