Letter from the Director – September 2021

Serious Play

A couple of years ago, I was interviewed by the editor of a journal that published both creative writing and visual art. I had 2 pieces of abstract art in the journal and the questions related to my process and purpose for creating that art. I hesitated when answering a question about the “work” that went into the art’s production, because, in all honesty, I don’t think of my brand of visual art as work at all, but entirely play. 

The poetry I write, now that’s real work, but the other side of my creative mind, that which produces abstract and mixed media visual art, is solidly grounded in the “art” of play, of experimentation, of risk-taking, of seeing what comes from a new idea. I create with a sense of anticipation and freedom, based on random choices and a “fly by the seat of your pants” mindset. Art is my arena for serious play, which may be a sort of oxymoron, but seems to fit my vision for what I’m doing. 

I think art and play are good for me. Since I am a bit of a perfectionist, I tend to over-focus on making things “right.” In creativity, that’s a death knell, for it’s in the fluid motion of imperfection that the true and right come into focus. In art, I can mess up and not take myself so seriously. I can scrape the paint into the trashcan and give myself a do-over, something that would go against my work ethic in poetry. With paint on my hands (and often on my t-shirt too!), I can be more involved in the process and less concerned about the result. 

I want writers who stay at the colony to be passionately focused on their writing, but I also long for them to have fun. We’ve added a few touches to inspire a slow-down, a change of focus from intense concentration to a lighthearted smile. The pool, the trails, the benches, the rocking chairs – all of these invite writers to spend a little time away from “work.” I think that brief time in a new head space will result in renewed energy and better focus. Remember the old adage, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” Here’s a better quote from Julia Cameron: “Serious art is born from serious play.”

Let’s play, friends!