Working hands, Open heart

“When there is a crisis, let your heart pray, but let your hands work.”

— John Kramer

Friends and acquaintances alike describe a shelter-in-place that includes working hands gardening, gourmet cooking, collaging, crocheting, sewing, or other creative activities. Miranda July, a multi disciplinary artist talked about the value of resourcefulness in an interview about handling creative obstacles in quarantine.

“I think we will see that we have a ridiculous wealth of tools for creating and connecting, and now they have a reason. Now we can put them to use for something other than distraction. —Miranda July

—Miranda July

The June/July 2020 release of iconic fashion magazine Vogue recognized the value of creativity/handwork in a special issue entitled, “Postcards from Home: Creativity in a Crisis.

My hands prefer busy. From potholders during childhood to teen years filled with crochet scarves and afghans, items of cross stitch or detailed embroidery, I’ve always favored working hands. My fascination evolved to structured needlepoint and embroidery on canvas and then onto beaded creations. In more than five decades, my working hands have shaped thousands of pieces for my own comfort, for gifts and for sale.

In the quiet of the evening, my needle stitches together pieces of the day, letting me reflect on the good, the problems, the opportunities. It’s my meditation. There’s a sense I can focus on two positive activities at once: the project at hand and an immersion in the process. 

Alessandro Michele, Gucci’s Creative director put it this way: 

“I’ve rediscovered crocheting and the sacredness of manual work. Crocheting is my way of praying.”

Alessandro Michele

Thousands of everyday people have contributed handmade masks, for example. A post on NextDoor told of a man buying his wife a sewing machine so she could participate in the movement. Stories such as these underscore the importance of creativity and of working hands. A purist might refer to craft. My sense is the distinction between art and craft in this case matters not.

The pursuit of art for its own sake provides meaning, connection and contribution. In the midst of a world of uncertainty, the simplicity of maker energy, of working hands, yields lightness of being, creating the ripple effect of which is a whisper of inspiration and encouragement.

What a wonderful message to send to the world. 

Comments

  1. What a powerful reminder and underscore of the power of creation that is embedded/embodied in our hands. Thank you, Mary Ellen, for sharing your wise perceptions.

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