“Creative expression requires an ability to work with feelings and channel them. Frustration, dissatisfaction, and even a sense of desperation may help you access an eloquence you never knew existed” Shaun McNiff
It’s been 4 months since we went into lockdown and it’s starting to take its toll. People are tired, anxious and irritated and at a deep subliminal level there is a sense of collective unease. The upside is that in this time I have learned so much about myself, my community and the world at large. I have also been reminded about the role creativity plays in keeping us all sane.
Something strange happened in my Zoom drawing class this week. A kind of wonderfully weird and unexpected awakening. We were all busy drawing animals, a theme we have been working on for a few weeks now, and the atmosphere was quiet and focused as everyone beavered away on their drawings.
Then, from out of the silence came a voice, “My baboon looks angry”, to which there was a reply “My leopard looks sad”, and then from the other side of the screen, “My elephant looks confused”, rounded off by “My giraffe doesn’t know what’s going on”. We all laughed in unison, but in that instant, there was a recognition that we were not laughing at our animals, but laughing at ourselves and that our animals were channeling our grief.
As images of the drawings started to come through onto our Whatsapp group, I could see that my students were right. These animals were indeed confused, irritated, perplexed and all pretty fed up.
It struck me in that moment, that these sessions are more than just about learning to draw. Sure, they are relaxing and fun, but more than that, they unknowingly offer us a space to channel our angst about this chaotic situation we find ourselves in. They offer a release for the internal turmoil and in so doing, help us to recognize not only what is going on inside of ourselves, but that we are not alone in how we feel. Recognizing this, allows us to laugh and feel reassured that what we are feeling is normal, given the circumstances.
There is a release that comes with being able to draw together, a therapeutic outpouring of emotion, that leaves us all smiling and feeling lighter after every session.
Here are a few of our beloved animals, who are carrying the burden for all of us:
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You can find out more about me at www.sallyscott.co.za
Nice that the art of your students can help them express their feelings in this time. It also says something about the environment you create. I read your post and as a storyteller (offline) i find myself thinking about how my changing feelings in this period shine through in the stories i tell. Thank you for this inspiration.