I was listening to Terry Gross interview Stephen King a few days ago. Of course they talked about the pandemic that has turned many of us suspicious of our own hands, not to mention the world at large. Near the end of the interview, Gross asked King about a quote he read somewhere and re-tweeted. I don’t have the precise words, but I can share the idea: If you think art is not essential, try getting through these weeks of isolation without fiction, poetry, music, film, dance, and visual art. Those of you who visit my website, and the websites of other artists, those who are taking comfort in a good book, or poetry, or music, or Netflix (how many times I have heard people say, “Thank God for Netflix!”), understand this well.
Artists and craftspersons who do weekend art shows are frequently receiving emails of cancellations of the shows that have accepted us. The organizers have been supportive and generous, refunding our booth fees and, in some cases, offering us opportunities to participate in virtual art shows via Zoom. In many cases they have also directed us to various resources to make up for the loss of income which, for some artists (not myself, fortunately) can be catastrophic.
If enjoying art, in its many forms, can help us through this time of crisis, creating art (or something) can also offer a balm. I am finding the extra time in my studio to be extremely rewarding, especially with the just-completed extension created by my nephew, daughter, and husband (with a little painting assistance from myself). I experience peace, a sense of freedom and well-being, and the hope of a good future when I work in my studio. Of course there are times when the work is tedious, but a collage is not a relentless taskmaster and can be left while I get a snack or run around the room, or put the wash into the dryer. (Which reminds me, there is wash waiting . . .) I am working large these days, an opportunity I don’t have in the fullness of the art show season. The extra time I am afforded by these many cancellations is, on the one hand unfortunate, and on the other a great boon,
Not everyone is an artist, but I fiercely believe that everyone is creative. People sometimes tell me that they are not creative. But then I learn that they are innovative cooks, or talented gardeners, or they understand how to put together a interesting outfit, or create peace in tense times. Creativity is not just for artists. We need every kind of creator possible, especially now, in this time of physical isolation.
What do you like to create?
Back to my hands, which I wash often and long. This morning (and yesterday afternoon, too), I also got prodigious amounts of Elmer’s Glue-All on them (which I later had fun peeling off) as I prepared a large piece of substrate for a collage I have yet to create. It sits across the room from where I type, a 16″ x 48″ void I will be filling for at least the next two weeks, piece by piece. When I am collaging, when I am using my hands to create, I do not fear them. I trust them.
This poem I created out of a list of words I was able to make from the letters in the word “Refrigerator,” appears somewhere else on this site (cf: “Making Mandalas:). It seems worth repeating now to myself and anyone else who finds it encouraging:
To get fire: rare.
To free fire: rarer.
To err: oft.
Tiger at gate: go.
Forge art or fear.
Great gift after grief.