This is our daughter doing her adrenaline high, 20th birthday. Skydiving is as creative a pursuit as art, writing, filmmaking, photography, dance, sculpture or anything else you can think of.
The fourth secret in 7 Secrets is called The Creative. It’s about how the creative process lies at the heart of synchronicity. As writers, we usually think of the creative process in terms of writing. But it applies across the board to any creative endeavor. From the traditional creative pursuits – art, photography, film, dance, writing, sculpture – to what we manifest in our daily lives, creativity is about imagination. If you can imagine it, then you can manifest it.
So yesterday (November 9) my friend Nancy Pickard and I drove across the state to see Megan. This will be the first year that she isn’t coming home for Thanksgiving – (boyfriend)- so I wanted to see her before she comes home for Christmas break. Megan is an art major, only one of nine at her college. All fourth years (otherwise known as seniors) have to do a thesis. It’s an all consuming process that for most majors involves an extensive thesis on a particular topic. For art majors, it means a thesis plus 10-30 paintings that express the core idea of their thesis.
The fourth year art majors have their own studios on campus, where they paint and draw until they’re half nuts with what they’re doing. The art they create is supposed to express their thesis idea. The challenge is to know what your core idea is. You’re supposed to arrive at this by allowing your artistic expression free reign to explore, to experiment. The risk is that you do a whole bunch of paintings and not a single one speaks to you. Not a single painting whispers, Hey, I’m the core idea. For writers, this is the equivalent of writing 300 pages of a novel that collapses before you reach the end.
Nancy and I toured the studios, looked at the art, were really impressed. Painting, after all, is not all that different from writing. You create characters, moods, textures, colors. You tap into visceral emotion. Nathan, a tall, thin man with passionate eyes, is creating a series of paintings that enable us, the viewers, to tap into Jung’s collective unconscious. In one painting, a figure is hunched in a pool of water somewhere, maybe in a jungle, maybe in your back yard. You immediately know something dangerous lies in that pool.
Nathan definitely understands that in the Jungian school of thought, water represents the unconscious.This painting of the guy in the pool of water is surrounded by much smaller paintings of Niagara Falls taken from webcam images. These hallucinogenic images, at least to me, symbolized the passage of earth time, the passage from ice age to life as we know it now to something altogether different.
Missy, one of the other art majors, plays with waves – images of water and light – to depict the passage of time. In one painting that captured my attention, she has a bottle or can at the forefront of her painting that you immediately know has been there for decades, maybe centuries. Its shape and texture are marked by time’s passage through corrosion, shrinkage. Her advisor told her this painting was too much of a cliche, that it wouldn’t count toward whatever number of paintings she needed for her thesis. Yet, to me, the painting smacked of a Jungian archetype. Anyone looking at it feels the passage of time that goes beyond wrinkles on a face, creaks in the bones. It’s like a Coke bottle 500 years in our future that washes up on a beach. Cliche? Who cares? We get the message.
Megan’s thesis is on dolphins.How have we used these magnificent creatures for our own agendas in the military, in research, in captivity? How have we turned them into anthropomorphic versions of ourselves and our own struggles? Megan’s studio was filled with paintings.
This one, for instance, shows dolphins as armed soldiers, a comment on how the U. S. military taught captive dolphins to carry explosives. Nancy remarked that these dolphins look like WWI soldiers, and Megan laughed and said yup, she’d painted them from WWI photos. Her advisor called this a sketch (i.e, doesn’t count toward number of paintings for thesis).
This was my favorite, and spoke of the harm we humans have done to dolphins, inadvertently, through our corruption of the environment – think BP, Exxon Valdez – and through our experiments on dolphins in captivity. The advisor also considered this one a sketch. Megan gave it to me to bring home.
The advisor also considered this one a sketch. Again, it’s a takeoff on the military use of dolphins.
In a sense, these “sketches” are like outlines for books. They’re blueprints Megan’s muse will use to take the work in other, unexplored directions.
In the next painting, Megan uses a myth from the Amazon about the pink dolphins. In that myth, the pink river dolphins are believed to emerge from the river on the nights of the full moon as human males. They cover their blowholes with a hat, then seduce the prettiest women in the village and carry them back into the river to be their mates. When a woman in the village becomes pregnant our of wedlock, she can say the dolphin did it!
With this one, she stained the paper with tea and made it look like a page from an old manuscript.This one is also a personal favorite.
There’s something magnificent about watching her talent unfold.
OK, so here’s the synchro. Every January, kids at her college are supposed to undertake some sort of independent study project that relates to their major. One January, Megan worked at a wildlife preserve in Ecuador. While engaged in her thesis project, she applied for a January internship at a dolphin facility in the Florida Keys. And she landed the internship!