29 Jan

A Creative Funk

It’s been a tumultuous week on the political front and my desire to stay informed and engaged is in direct conflict with my need to accomplish anything. I’ve been jumping from outrage to outrage, trying to peel the layers back and determine what is actually normal and/or true (but not necessarily my cup of tea), and what is just plain nuts. It’s exhausting.

I want to express my confusion, rage, frustration, and my votes and letters to representatives in government seem rather meaningless. And this week, I’m feeling like my art is rather meaningless too. There is so much beautiful, impactful, art on social media, and I see it reaching and connecting to so many people, that I figure anything I do is lame. I commented as much on a friend’s post, but then decided to delete it because it was self-centered and whiny, and not appropriate for someone else’s post. So, I’m saying it here.

Maybe I’ve already said enough. ‘Murica, my US flag made of tessellating gun shapes speaks to the intertwined relationship between America’s self image and guns. Death Shroud for Democracy is my commentary on the tearing apart and dismantling of American democracy. In my opinion, we’ve been functioning as an Oligarchy for quite a while, and the new administration appears intent in meeting it’s campaign promises to metaphorically burn the place down. Most recently, I finished #notnormal, which tries to draw attention to the normalization of Donald Trump’s antics. I had assumed that these pieces were the beginning of something. That I could keep going. But this week, I’m not feeling it. I’m not up to the task. Everything I consider has been done before, and done better by others.

Another friend reminded me that my black and white scrap quilt is pretty awesome. That was a perfect smack upside the head. Yes, it is awesome. And maybe it’s perfectly OK to retreat into a year of scrappy medallion quilts and samples for work which are all about the process of making, or the pretty colors and patterns, and perhaps a perfect escape from the tedious reality of parsing news from fiction and real outrage from outrage merely for the sake of drama or distraction.

3 thoughts on “A Creative Funk

  1. Kristin- I hear you. While my husband continues to try and keep up with every ridiculous move this new administration makes, I have been retreating. It is not good for me emotionally to continually listen to what is happening. I have decided to up my game locally. I am urging eveyone who feels disenfranchised to VOLUNTEER where ever doing what ever. It is the only thing that makes sense right now. Your scrap quilt is incredible–I think when I posted in on my Facebook page it got the most hits of any quilt I have shared. I claim that art form. Maybe it doesn’t protest in the way you want, but it does celebrate and hold up to others the wonder of making work that is simply humble bits. It is making the sum greater than the parts. Anyway, hang in there. I am beginning to see some hope. There are conservatives who are joining us and that will tip balance on this charade.

  2. I hear you. I have decided to insulate myself as much as possible from the news. When I know the details, I am paralyzed, and when I am paralyzed, that is a win for evil. The broad strokes filter in despite my efforts, but I decline to see the face, or hear/say the name. I am saving my energy for resistance.

    I’ve decided to concentrate on the little picture, rather than the big one. I have no sense that anything I do makes a noticeable difference, but what if it does? What if my butterfly-wings’ worth of energy is critical to the straw that breaks the camel’s back? What if?

    My “action” choice is a buckshot plan. Lots and lots of little things. Donations. Picking up plastic when I’m out walking, because “the ocean is downhill from everywhere.” Sharing images I find pleasing, and heartening quotations on my blog and my instagram account. Being very free with genuine thanks and genuine smiles. Saying “hello” when I meet people on my walks, and giving those genuine smiles. Laying dollars on local businesses (including restaurants, well-being teachers [yoga, tai chi], book stores, yarn stores…..). Writing on paper to thank my senators and rep, who are all good guys (I mean to do this at least once a month). Signing petitions. I called a senator’s offices for the first time last week to protest the DeVos nomination. I didn’t like it, but I think I’m going to have to cowgirl up and call more often.

    At the end of the day, I need to be able to look myself in the mirror and say “I tried.” And tried and tried and tried and tried. And if it just might be that something I do could be part of the straw that breaks the camel’s back, I will have done it.

    I think you should work on your awesome black&white, and when the next overtly political piece takes over your mind, you will be ready to bring it into the world.

  3. I also feel your pain Kristin. My stomach has an assemblage of knots in it. Anger, resentment, disappointment. I actually thought the same thing last week, that I should retreat into the clear actions of a traditional pattern of piecing and create a simple lap quilt for comfort. But the pieces were so jagged and dark I had to stop. No one would want to have that darkness on their lap. I agree with Vicki and Maria. Small acts of kindness, resistance and connections make the difference. Watch what some cities are doing to resist. There are rays of hope. And perhaps with diligence the nightmare will clear. This freight train will have brakes. Your shroud took my breath away. Your army wife series is brilliant. Your voice is heard.

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