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Caring Creativity Collage—by Deborah Carrithers

Upon asking how creativity and the arts are helping people get through difficult times, we received a number of unique responses. The following “Caring Creativity Collage” was shared by Deborah Carrithers, who has been utilizing a variety of creative modalities and expressions to help with her emotional wellbeing during the pandemic. Here’s what Deborah had to say!

Art and its many creative expressions figures in most of the activities I have used to protect myself from the worst of the pandemic's psychological side effects. In the attached collage, moving clockwise from the top left:

1) Gardening is a favorite escape, getting me outdoors and away from electronic distractions and online bad news; here is a trellis I created for a honeysuckle vine; the organic lines of the design celebrate what I love about Nature's feminine curves and flowing energy.

2) For Día de los Muertos I organized my first Ofrenda, memorializing and mourning many of the losses from the year; for me the most powerful legacy of this year is the grief from trauma and loss, and I fortunately live within a culture that has beautiful rituals surrounding these essential emotions.

3) My knitting hobby helped me produce "hugging monsters" to let my great niece and nephew know how much I miss them; my need to keep connections with friends and family has grown in proportion to my isolation!

4) Another memorial project, this one a tribute to Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a heroine of mine.

5) A bit of whimsy added to a Halloween decoration; finding the humor in something (the fear of coronavirus) takes away its power, if only temporarily.

6) Designing and making a colorful pair of socks was an act of self-care and love!

Each project arises out of one of two primal urges: to celebrate, or to mourn. Each is a tangible expression that helps me to stay connected to emotions I might otherwise avoid. The Ofrenda, for instance, isn't finished. I am mourning the U.S. deaths from the virus by collecting pebbles in a glass bowl, one pebble to represent 1,000 deaths. But that doesn't come near to the right understanding, so I am also cutting out 1,000 white butterflies to decorate the door to the room containing the ofrenda. I may not reach the full number needed, but the attempt will constantly remind me of the enormity of this disaster, and the necessity to grieve and mourn with and for the families.

With passion and song in my heart,

Deborah Carrithers

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