Quilt design by Deborah Taillon

West St. Paul’s Creativity in Quarantine

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Many West St. Paul residents stuck at home are turning to creativity to make it through the COVID-19 quarantine. Whether it’s art, music, crafts, or something else, it’s an important outlet.

“Crocheting is a great way to keep my hands busy,” says Samantha Green. “I am able to go on auto pilot, watch a movie, and still create.”

It can also feed a deeper, therapeutic need in the midst of all the coronavirus chaos.

“The satisfaction of seeing fabric points meet perfectly gives me control in an otherwise uncontrollable situation,” says Deborah Taillon, who has turned to quilting. “Planning, measuring, cutting, pinning, sewing, and ironing are all repetitive, meditative acts that provide a lot of peace for me.”

Making Music

Joan and her husband, Mitch, have been sharing music on Facebook every week. They were preparing to perform a set of country gospel and Americana songs with a friend, but thanks to COVID-19 they can’t practice together.

“I felt compelled right away after the stay-at-home order to share a song with friends and family every Sunday,” says Joan Gunderson-Palmer. “It gives me something to work toward each week, and I hope it provides at least a little bright spot in people’s days.”

Mitch has been staying up late to make music after the kids go to bed and sharing tracks on bandcamp.

Guitarist Rob Wedewer also had musical plans interrupted by the pandemic. He plays in two bands, Hot Brockoli and July Fighter, and is missing gigs and rehearsals. July Fighter had been in the studio when the pandemic hit, and that project is now on hold.

But July Fighter is still able to create music during this time. They’re using technology to write and record a new song, thanks to a recording device and app called Spire Studio.

“Our drummer records his drums and then sends the project to our singer who then puts vocals and rhythm guitar on the track,” says Wedewer. “Then it gets sent to the bass player, who records his part and then he sends it off to me to put my guitar parts down.  We can continue to share it back and forth and adjust or redo our parts until we have a finished track.”

You can listen to the track in progress:

“I love music,” says Peter Barry. “I’ve created music in the past and so I was drawn to it again in the last year. Making music for me is experimenting with sounds and patterns. I love the feeling when I discover a match that moves me.”

Barry recently created a song and shared it online in hopes of finding someone to help mix it.

“I want to be making music during this time because it brings me joy,” says Barry. “The Groundhog Day effect of life right now has less joy in it than I’m used to.”

Fine Art

For artist Lucy Wedewer, quarantine is a time to stretch her skills while still balancing the demands of school’s distance learning.

“There are so many different types of art that there’s always something new to learn,” says Lucy. “Recently, I have been working on pencil drawings which is a medium I don’t normally use. Experimenting with different mediums and different styles of art never seems to get boring.”

Lucy is taking online art classes through Skillshare to try new techniques and disciplines.

“I have been looking more on improving and experimenting than what I usually do, which is just staying in my comfort zone,” says Lucy Wedewer. “Quarantine is a great time to improve on any skill you want.”

Harder to Be Creative

Of course a global pandemic has an impact on creativity just like everything else.

“For me it’s harder to be creative because the lack of normal life has reduced my motivation to do much of anything,” says Barry. “The amount of music I’ve created has gone down but the need to be doing it is quite high.”

He’s not the only one suffering from a lack of motivation.

“Sometimes it is hard to be creative because I find myself lacking the motivation to do something other than stare at my phone,” says Lucy Wedewer.

For a lot of people, the constant worries of a pandemic are part of the challenge.

“It’s much harder for me to feel creative,” says Darci Read, a designer by profession who also quilts and knits. “I just don’t have the mental space for it right now.”

Green agrees: “I have so many other thoughts and concerns taking up space in my head that being authentically creative is taking a back seat.”

A sample of Samantha Green’s crochet work.

The times require being intentional.

“Creativity comes from within but is often inspired by what we see around us,” says Rob Wedewer. “Part of my creativity as a guitar player is generated by the energy I get from playing live gigs. My most creative days are often the day after I have a gig. So missing those gigs has made those types of days less organic and require that I carve out time to just try and create.”

But not everyone finds it harder to be creative during quarantine.

“I am full of nervous energy, and like most artists and makers, I need to get this energy out somehow,” says Taillon, who finds it easier to be creative. “Making things is a huge release and a relief.”

Why Creativity Helps

“Music has so much to give,” says Joan Gunderson-Palmer. “It can help us feel connected, cheer us up, console us when we are sad, give us an outlet to vent when we are angry. We (I) need all of these things right now on an almost daily basis!”

Tapping into creativity can definitely bring some peace in the midst of chaos.

“The nature of knitting is repetitive and meditative so it’s been useful to calm my mind a bit,” says Read.

Whether it’s a meditative art project or even just coloring or a puzzle, we need those moments right now. (That’s probably why puzzles are a hot item in local stores—and have even started showing up in Little Free Libraries.)

Turning to art, music, crafts, and other creative endeavors, especially during a global challenge, is nothing new.

“People have been turning to hand crafts for centuries,” says Taillon. “We have developed folk arts to preserve our history, to tell stories, to leave a legacy. Quilting is a meditative, therapeutic, and utilitarian way to create something to mark a point in history, and to literally wrap ourselves in comfort during a tough time. I can’t think of a better craft right now.”

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