Stories about COVID-19 are stories about bad stuff, for the most part. The pandemic that arrived in early 2020 has brought economic upheaval, unimaginable suffering and more than 5.5 million deaths, and it’s not over.
We’re all sharply conscious of this bad news, not only because it permeates all forms of media, but also because we are living it.
But there are other stories, good stories, about what the pandemic has wrought: stories about people giving up awful jobs and the stress of big-city life for more quiet, more meaning, more time for what matters.
COVID Creations, an art show at Unity of the Triangle, brought evidence of some of best stuff, in the worst of times, to members, friends and neighbors of that community in Raleigh, N.C. this year.
Organized by Karen Thorsen and another artist, Judy Crane, the exhibit in the church’s Fellowship Hall featured 40 works completed during the pandemic.
Members and non-members who attend Unity of the Triangle were invited to participate in the exhibit, which was on display until early December. “The response has been very positive and the variety of media was fun to see,” said Karen. The show featured works in acrylic; stained glass; poetry; photography; mixed media; giclée oil on panel; watercolors; giclée painted paper collage; giclée mixed media; ink and watercolor; graphite; oil cold wax; and collage.
“Unity congregants love to serve and to give,” Karen continued. “Along with goods purchased for others, funds raised, and prayers created, the art exhibits allow for the opportunity for artistic expression.” As the Outreach/Unity in the Community chairperson at Unity of the Triangle, she organizes four exhibits for the Fellowship Hall each year.
Albert Einstein would not be surprised by a burst of creativity during a COVID lockdown. “I lived in solitude in the country and noticed how the monotony of a quiet life stimulates the creative mind,” he once observed. And he was neither the first nor last to understand how solitude can fuel creativity. Pablo Picasso believed that “without great solitude, no serious work is possible.”
There is a catch, however: In order to create, one must be okay with being alone. “In order to be open to creativity, one must have the capacity for constructive use of solitude,” suggested the psychotherapist Rollo May. “One must overcome the fear of being alone.”
“When you cease to fear your solitude, a new creativity awakens in you,” taught John O’Donohue, the celebrated Irish poet, author, and priest. “Your forgotten or neglected wealth begins to reveal itself. You come home to yourself and learn to rest within. Thoughts are our inner senses. Infused with silence and solitude, they bring out the mystery of inner landscape.”