In El Paso, Texas, there is a little house right off the highway known as the Casa de Azúcar (the Sugar House). It’s known as the sugar house because, well, it kind of looks like it’s carved out of sugar. I see this house often, it’s really impossible to miss. It’s got cement towers and spirals of blue and orange, cherubs and a shrine, among other interesting details.
The history of the house is well-known locally. The creator and artist behind the house, Rufino Loya, began work on the house after promising his wife that he would build her “something beautiful.” The project grew until it became what it is today, and the result really is a remarkable testament to one man’s dedication and creativity. It is a true labor of love.
This house makes me think a lot about creativity and about the act of creating. I’ve always enjoyed imagining the reasons why someone invests time, effort and passion into a particular project. Based off of my own personal experience, I’ve always felt that many people create in an effort to express creativity, to release pent up imagination and let it run wild and free. The act of creating a project like the Sugar House goes beyond that though. The house stands as a reminder of love, of devotion, of dreams and of a shared vision with a special person. I hope to create something like that for someone one day. I very much doubt it will be a house (I’m not really very handy,) but maybe something else: a story of a family member’s life, a special painting, a piece of art reflecting an important moment.
In everyday life, it is really to easy to get lost in the mechanical task-driven routine of completing your work. Whether that be writing a certain amount of words a day, finishing a project on a deadline, or simply checking things off of a to do list, accomplishing and being productive can become all-consuming. Lately, I’ve found myself stuck in this rut. For me this inevitably leads to frustration and burnout. In moments like these it helps me to look at a place like the Casa de Azúcar, created with so much love and patience, and remind myself what I want for my art and words in the world.
Why do you create? Is it an act of reflection? Is it because it’s therapeutic? An act of self-care, a gesture of goodwill and love towards your self or another? A need to express and build something that has never existed? Or a combination of all of it? I tend to believe that the reasons most people enjoy creating are as complex and varied as the people themselves. Everyone has their sources of inspiration, and learning about those reasons is one of the most fascinating and rewarding aspects of enjoying a piece of art. Whatever you create, do it with love.