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A Call for Creativity

posted Mar 30, 2020, 5:29 PM by Kathleen Peters   [ updated Mar 31, 2020, 5:58 AM ]
When I was a little girl, my mom came into my room late one night and woke me.  Her excitement pulled me out of a warm sleep, and she beckoned me out into the chilly night air on the porch.  Her excitement was electric, making me zing with anticipation. She stood frozen, taught, hushed. I waited patiently for my eyes to adjust to the dark, then followed her gaze.  There, on the screen next to the door, was the palest green moth. It was like delicate sea glass poised in the inky night.  

I was spellbound by its wings, with bright spotted false eyes that somehow generated light.  It must have swallowed the moon. It drew me from the depths of the surrounding night to itself.  It was stunning. My mom pulled me near and whispered quietly that it was a luna moth. She let her words float away as we studied this wonderful creature.  


New Hampshire's Giant Silk Moths: Polyphemus, Luna and Cecropia


Slowly I lifted my hand to touch it - to make it my own - but mom gently pulled me away. “It’s too delicate to touch,  you’ll hurt it and it won’t be able to fly.” Instead, we watched its wings ever so gently open and close and open and close until, in one strong beat, it lifted and flew over the yard and into the trees in a slow, erratic flight.  


All the darkness around me was chased away by the brightness of that luna’s beauty.  It’s wings conquered night and I shared it’s weightlessness. A light was sparked deep in my chest.  There was silent magic. Years later I would remember that moment when reading Nette Onclaud’s poem …. “This elegance is not meant to be mine…., with joy, I tossed it back to grace the woods.”


These are dark times.  Our country is facing the Covid-19 pandemic and it is harrowing.  Sadness fills me as I watch whole cities be bludgeoned with illness.  Tens of thousands are sick. Thousands are dead. I taste angst as I watch the National Guard set up military medical tents for all the sick people.  People are losing their jobs. The economy is tanking. We isolate ourselves in hopes of slowing tragedy.  


The classes I was teaching abruptly halted.  Some of my shows are cancelled. All of the stores and galleries where I sell my work are closed.  Artists are all in the same boat. None of us have much hope for making money for a while. The governor has declared a stay at home order, and if I’m not careful I begin to believe that I am called to do nothing. 


In the emerging field of neuroaesthetics, scientists have been able to use MRIs in order to quantify the positive effects of beauty and art on the brain.  Slowly we are beginning to understand how beauty and art are actually life giving. It produces positive biophysical responses in the medial prefrontal cortex of the brain.  Beauty actually heals. Creation is actually regenerative.


Artists are more than professional makers.  We are creators and keepers of beauty, love and hope.  And these push out darkness and despair - just like that luna moth conquered the night.  Never have I known my community to need these more than it does now. As artists we must join the ranks of workers and help to produce healing.  Though we are unable to go to hospitals and give medicine or ventilators, we can fill the world with the salve of our work. We can decrease stress, angst, and fear.  We can alleviate sadness and bring people closer to one another even in the midst of social distancing.  


I am hoping to share some of my creations (even my small, imperfect ones) on social media in order lessen the effects of all this suffering. I hope you join me in this endeavor. Though our typical venues are closed and we are unlikely to sell work now, share your art. It has so much more value than money.  Offer it to the world. After all, the elegant dreams born within us were never ours to possess. They are there to give.


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