M.C. Richards: An Inspiring Creative Spirit

“Every person is a special kind of artist and every activity is a special art. An artist creates out of the materials of the moment, never again to be duplicated. This is true of the painter, the musician, the dancer, the actor; the teacher; the scientist; the business man; the farmer – it is true of us all, whatever our work, that we are artists so long as we are alive to the concreteness of a moment and do not use it to some other purpose.” – MC Richards

These are words of wisdom offered by M.C. Richards who was an inspiring poet, potter, educator, and painter.  She celebrated creativity in all of it forms.

She was best known for her book that was written in the tumultuous 1960’s, Centering: in Pottery, Poetry, and the Person, where she shared the richness of daily life that one could discover if attended to – what we might term “mindfulness” today.  And also the creativity that lies within every person, not only those who consider themselves artists.

​M.C. earned a bachelor’s degree in Literature and Languages from Reed College in Oregon and received a Master’s and PhD from the University of California at Berkeley with a concentration in English and Linguistics.

After teaching English at the Central Washington College of Education and the University of Chicago, she became a faculty member at the experimental Black Mountain College in North Carolina. Her experiences here, as an educator and artist, created the foundation for her life’s work.

M.C. inspired others to engage and bring to life the creative spirit that lives within.  Even today, her words encourage us to create in whatever form we can.

​“The creative spirit creates with whatever materials are present.  With food, with children, with building blocks, with speech, with thoughts, with pigment, with an umbrella, or a wineglass, or a torch.  We are not craftsmen only during studio hours.  Any more than a man is wise only in his library.  Or devout only in church.  The material is not the sign of the creative feeling for life: of the warmth and sympathy and reverence which foster being: techniques are not the sign; “art” is not the sign.  The sign is the light that dwells within the act, whatever its nature or its medium.”  – MC Richards

M.C. experienced that when the creative spirit is engaged within us, we discover more about ourselves and create a connection with the world.  Here she describes her experience with clay.


“ As you go out, you come in, you always come into center, bring the clay into center; you press down, squeeze up, press one hand into the other, bringing your material into center… We bring our self into a centering function, which brings it into union with all other elements.  This is love…. When on center, the self feels different: one feels warm,…in touch,… the power of life…. drinking it in and giving it off, at the same time quiet and at rest within it.”  – MC Richards

Later in life, MC discovered the work of Rudolf Steiner and lived and taught at the Camphill Village, a community with adults with special needs based on biodynamic agriculture and social therapy, in Kimberton, PA while also teaching part-time with Matthew Fox at the University of Creation Spirituality in Oakland, CA.

Inspired to Unleash your own Creative Spirit?  Join me in my upcoming group session on May 5th where we will use the wisdom and inspiration of MC Richards along with St. Hildegard and the Nicholas Brothers to explore our own creative spirits.  Find more info and register HERE.