I’m in Chicago for a week. I walk around the city, delighted with the new and thinking about creativity. Artist On Kawara painted the date, everyday, to prove he was and is capable of creating. That’s how I feel. I went to Chicago to make more art. This trip was a commitment to myself to invest in my practice.
I know a little bit about Chicago from researching international labour history about May Day, but everything about this city is new to me. I left my hotel on a clear, cold Sunday morning to see The Bean and be there when the Art Institute opened. The skyscrapers were beautiful; cornices scraping the sky and saying our ornaments define and stop here at this edge of cloud. And something happened when I got to the Bean- I started laughing with delight. Everything was upside down. The tourists photographing were posing – even one ballerina with a leg up – what faces could we have in a funhouse mirror? Who was Chicago, upside down with sky on the bottom? Vancouver, could you recognize yourself if your glass angles and planes curved into bulges and a blue sky?
Right underneath the Bean, the railyards. Imagining the footsteps of people 150 years ago – and people today – walking to work to build these towers; the view to the lake, so huge it held possibilities like the ocean. Chicago rebuilding after the great fire, intersecting with the labor upheavals of the Industrial revolution because what other choice do we have? We have to keep going, to find hope anew.
Traveling, I could be anything in this new place. Creativity is a process of choosing to rebuild. Take something apart, put it back together differently. Skyscrapers went up and up because Chicago architects had a choice about what face to show the world. Before, in classical architecture, thick foundations held up the building. Height was limited by how thick the walls could be. Then skyscrapers came, innovating a steel skeleton in a metaphor of unlimited possibility.
Creativity can be many things – and sometimes I have to go out and search for it. Once I’m in it, I love that place of flow: time is gone. I’m in my zone. When the drawings move without me thinking, and I don’t look at a clock. It comes more easily in new places because I’m out of my comfort zone. Traveling makes it apparent that we are also in times of great change. Collectively, we need to be out of our comfort zones to challenge the beliefs that make us feel safe. Creativity is a tool to help us rebuild relationships, spaces, ideas. It will help us discover how to put the pieces back together once they are taken apart.
— January 10th, 2013