Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Creativity in times of stress: This is how it started video

I wrote last week about the power and frustration of everyday life when something hugely disruptive occurs. I wrote about it in the context of grief as well as in the current U.S. political climate.

As an artist, I have been somewhat stymied in the last few years. I'm working, I'm performing, but Kevin's death has changed the way my creative process functions. It is much harder. I feel as though I'm operating in a vacuum, that my greatest ally, co-creator and most constructive critic is no longer around. It feels this way because it's true. In the last year or so I've been slowly finding new ways to create new work, but it's hard.

The recent U.S. election and inauguration has added to my difficulty creating. I find myself questioning the worth and value of the art I make in this climate that feels so antithetical to what I do best. It feels the way it did in the first few months after his death when I felt alone and adrift, that my art could make no difference in the world. I question the value of the work, the thing that has shaped me and my life for years, and therefore my own value.

The answer, of course, is to keep working. To be silenced is to capitulate, to say that yes, the arts in general (and my art in particular) lacks relevance. I don't believe that, though some days it's hard to remember. I believe that now more than ever we need art; as sustenance, as distraction, as fuel for the hard work of creating change; as that necessary break that helps us remember the best of who we are and the possibilities of who we might become.

Part of my answer to the question of my own relevance is to make art that I find meaningful. Part of my answer is to help others find their own voices, to help create space where we all can be heard, to take that subversive step of believing that what we do and who we are still matters.

It's not easy. I am faltering every step of the way. But it's something. It helps me build connection, nourish others and myself, and find a way through in these challenging times.

What arts are nourishing you? What are you creating? How do you keep going? I'd love to know.

The following video was recorded in January of 2017 at the Atlantic City Story Slam. This story has changed some, but it's a start and sometimes letting the flawed process be visible is as important as anything else.

(c)2017 Laura S. Packer Creative Commons License

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