Monthly Archives: February 2021

Reclaiming everyday creativity

In a recent online writing workshop Molly Caro May  said:

When you are making art – any kind of art – you are naturally soothing your nervous system.  Creation is really organizing for our nervous systems.  Even if you’re writing about something painful, just the formation and artistry of it is really grounding.
The point is: make art.  All the time.

Molly’s statement  resonated with me.  I feel better when I’m making art and I see the joy in others when they are (non-pandemic times) visiting and ‘playing’ in my studio. An art professor friend says taking classes, and making art is cheaper than therapy.  It seems obvious, and I know this intuitively, but to hear Molly connect creativity directly to the health of our physical bodies seems to add gravitas to the statement.

There is scientific evidence that being creative (including art, craft, writing,  music making, and dancing) affects our cognitive, psychosocial and physical health.  In this article in Psychology Toda by Dr. Cathy Malchiodi, she notes the conclusion from a review of existing literature of over 100 studies:

Most of these studies concur that participation and/or engagement in the arts have a variety of outcomes including a decrease in depressive symptoms, an increase in positive emotions, reduction in stress responses and, in some cases, even improvements in immune system functioning.  

Mihaly Czikszentmihalyi named the concentrated, absorbed state displayed by artists at work as flow.  In 1990, Dr. Czikszentmihalyi published Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience.

Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience, by Mihaly Csikscentmihalyi, 1990

In North America (the Western world, perhaps?) we have devalued creativity in our daily lives.  What used to be the norm in public schools (sewing, cooking, art, music and woodworking classes) cannot be taken for granted now.  The opportunities for people to learn and enjoy simple creative endeavours are reduced;  it’s all considered a luxury at best, and pointless to many.  

Not surprisingly, creativity is valued when it can be commodified. Business has embraced  creativity for its contribution to profitability.  The Flow Genome Project self-identifies as The Official Source for Peak Performance and Culture.  It advertises its collaboration with companies like Google, Nike and Goldman Sachs.

It seems obvious that we need to recapture the pleasure of creating things – not for profit, or for performative value – but for our own health and enjoyment.   If ever there was a time that our nervous systems – individually and collectively – need soothing, it’s now.

Go ahead and do something creative – every day.  Better still if it’s something temporary and not Instagram worthy:  living room solo dancing,  harmonizing with your favourite singers, making and writing in a private notebook.  The writer Annie Dillard wisely said…  How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives. 

 

 

More art fun!

Speaking of Inuit art, (previous post) who are your favourite Inuit artists?  Do you have one….or three?   If you’re an Art Caravan follower, you know I have a few favourites, including Kenojouak Ashevak (1927-2013) and Oviloo Tunnillie (1949-2014.)

Kenojuak Ashevak, thestar.com image

 

Oviloo Tunillie, cbc.ca image

Ningiukulu Teevee is another contemporary (born in 1963) Inuit artist on my favourites list.  (Isn’t that the beauty of lists – easily edited, amended, and never ending?)  I first wrote about her in 2015.  She works in drawing and printmaking, including lithography, etching and aquatint, as well as the more traditional stone cut and stencil.  I am attracted to the sense of humour and playfulness evident in her art.  The print, Trance, seems especially appropriate to this covid winter. (sigh)

Trance, Ningiukulu Teevee, 2014, stonecut and stencil, edition of 50

Trance, Ningiukulu Teevee, 2014, stonecut and stencil, edition of 50

Her subject matter is varied; traditional stories and legends are explored, as well as contemporary experiences and life in the Arctic.  The works express a beguiling combination of charm and edginess.

You Know your Inuk When, Ningiukulu Teevee, 2016, Madrona Gallery image

Yesterday, Ningiekulu Teevee, 2008, stonecut and stencil, dorsetfinearts.com image

Since  2004, she has contributed to the annual Graphics Collection from Cape Dorset.  Boastful Owl, is a lithograph from the 2020 Cape Dorset Annual Print Collection. (Sold out!)

Boastful Owl, Ningiukulu Teevee, 2020, lithograph, dorsetfinearts.com image

In 2017, the Winnipeg Art Gallery exhibited a solo show of Teevee’s work at the Canadian Embassy in Washington, D.C.  Ningiukulu Teevee:  Kingait Stories caught the attention of the Smithsonian Magazine, who described the show  as unique and wonderful.

In 2019, Dorset Fine Arts, in conjunction with Pomegranate, published Ningiukulu Teevee:  Drawings and Prints from Cape Dorset.  Leslie Boyd’s writing accompanies the 80+ images and photographs.  Need a last minute Valentine’s Day gift?  The book is readily available through your local independent bookseller (I know, because I just ordered it!)