May 05 2020

Guest Blogger: Julia Langley

by at 7:30 am under Uncategorized

Creativity in a Time of Uncertainty

In times like these, comfort can come from the arts. Many of the world’s most renowned artists, musicians, dancers and actors are giving of their time and talent to help communities deal with the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic. We see them on television, the internet and on social media, presenting their craft to the best of their (at-home) abilities.

While you and I may not have the skills of professional artists, we do have an inherent ability to create. And that ability needs to be exercised. In these troubled times, when we are separated from our work, faith and social institutions, it is essential that we find solace from inside ourselves. Thankfully, we are each equipped to do so.

As director of the Georgetown Lombardi Arts and Humanities Program, one of the statements I hear most often is, “I’m not creative.” This saddens me, because it’s never really the case. Unfortunately, our society teaches that creativity only counts when applied to certain professions, such as musician, visual artist, dancer or writer. But you don’t have to belong to one of those categories to enjoy the fruits of your imagination. As the author and theologian Thomas Merton wrote, “Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.”

My collage: the process is what mattered.

The “art” in Merton’s quote refers to a wide swath of endeavors, including photography, baking, gardening, sewing, pressing flowers, coloring or anything else that requires concentration, contemplation and a series of decisions and actions. In other words, things that many of us are already doing at home.

Looking around my house last week, in desperate need of distraction from the news, I found coloring pages, colored paper and magazines. I decided to make a collage. For three hours I colored, cut, pasted and taped (I couldn’t find glue). The end result was okay, but the product was never the point.  The process is what mattered. The process was completely engaging.  My time spent in a happy flow of colors, shapes and textures left me both relaxed and satisfied.

In this difficult time, I encourage you to find what fuels your creative spirit. Let’s shake off outdated ideas of artistry and innovate. Who knows what we may learn about ourselves and each other?

Vincent Van Gogh said, “If you hear a voice within you say, ‘You cannot paint,’ then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.”

Yours in good health and friendship,

Julia

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