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“Creativity in Quarantine” by Anya Nikolaeva, Liberal Arts Council President.

Updated: Oct 19, 2020

Everyone is creative. Many of us have often found ourselves in a situation when we resort to drawing when we’re bored – be it in lectures or meetings. It is hard to avoid uncontrollable scribbles on the side of the paper when we switch off from what is going on outside. We tend to go into our own thoughts and look inside our mind for more interesting things to think of whilst doodling.

Perhaps, this type of situation can be projected onto a bigger picture of what is going on in the world right now. The whole quarantine thing has left everyone very limited resources of entertainment and indoor activities, which may become boring even after a week of home isolation. During this time, instead of looking at the quarantine as a preventative means of having a full life (which it undoubtedly is, but this point of view is mildly depressing); try to think of it as a time for self-reflection and development. Think of it as a boring lecture, during which you have time to think whilst drawing. You can continue to let your creativity go and nourish the drawing (you don’t have to be good at it to express yourself through it) or try other means of creative expression. Such activities will allow you to have some time off and look into yourself, maybe think about stuff that has been dwelling on you for a while and figure it out, or you can use it as a meditative time, switching your mind off completely and just letting your subconscious express itself (similar to some Surrealists). You don’t have to overanalyse your work if you don’t want to, if it brings you emotional relief from stress and slows you down for a bit – it has done its job. As long as you don’t focus on it “looking good” and just let yourself be free in your pool of creative mind this technique can be a very productive way of spending time in quarantine.

Of course, some people strongly object to the idea of drawing or creative expression as a whole. For you, I can suggest learning more about an artwork that you liked or read about a piece of art that confused you at the latest contemporary art exhibition. It may come as a surprise, but our reactions to other people’s art can tell us a lot about ourselves: we are often drawn to the artworks of artists which had the same emotional mindset as we do; or, on the other hand, artworks that we don’t like can point out and trigger emotions and memories that we had trouble dealing with. One of the most interesting art movements that can tell you a lot about yourself is Surrealism. A very interesting art-exercise that you can do is to look up surrealist artworks and find 3 pieces: one that you really like, one that confuses you and you are not sure if you like or dislike it and one that you

really dislike. Read an explanation of its contents and the context for each work and try to reflect it on yourself – what made you like or dislike something. Our subconscious and instant reactions can often tell us more than we realise at a first glance.

One of the most interesting artists that has illuminated the artworld with her deep emotional reflections is Yayoi Kusama. She was my most resent personal discovery of all the things that I was talking about earlier – using art as a therapeutic, meditative and self-reflective tool as well as helping others see inside their own minds through her art. If you are interested in how she does that, you can read a full article on her here: .

I truly hope that you will be able to find and try something new during this interesting time in our lives. Quarantine does not mean that our lives have to stop. Our daily routines change, but instead of mourning the ‘normal’ life (that we will inevitably return to at some point), use it as an opportunity to do things that you would have never had time for in your ‘normal’ life.

Stay safe and be creative!

Anya Nikolaeva

SU Liberal Arts Council President

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