Midsummer Reunion: What rituals clear space for your creativity?
This mini reunion ep features all of our past Material Feels guests responding to the same question: What rituals do you associate with getting in a creative state of mind, working with your material or engaging with your creative practice? Producer Catherine Monahon also shares some exciting news about the Material Feels artist residency in Freehold, NY, and we go down a rabbit hole or two…
Catherine: Hi, everyone. Welcome back to Material Feels. This is the reunion episode and turns out look who it is.
Catherine: That’s Liz de Lise and guess what?
Liz: We’re together.
Catherine: Oh my God. We’re in the same room. Okay. Thanks. Thanks for your contributions. That was a little cameo from associate producer list, Elise. Uh, we are in the same place at the same time, which has not happened the entire time.
The material feels has been in existence. Pretty exciting. This month’s show is part reunion, episode part Midsummer intermission. We’ll be hearing from all the guests we featured about the rituals they associate with their creative practices. I’ve got an update for you. By the time his episode drops material feels will be an artist residency at the freehold art exchange in freehold, New York.
I’ve been traveling over the past week and a half. And as you might pick up from the raspy France, Russia vibe, I’m giving off my material. My voice is not used to this amount of time. Turns out vocal rest is something quarantine kind of naturally enforces. I have been talking more than I’ve ever talked over the past week and a half since before COVID and it turns out I have a lot to say, uh, I managed to see an entire branch of my family.
In the general affiliate area, and the only time over the course of a seven hour hangout that the talking stopped was the 0.5 seconds. While the waiter took a picture of all of us, I usual routine of solitude and herbal tea has been a little disrupted. Thanks for sticking with me through. Lower raspier vibe.
I actually like it, but it’s, you know, it’s different next month we will be exploring the materials used for ritual with ritualist Colleen Thomas producer of a podcast called Shane. Piñata take a listen to our show. In the meantime, Coleen explores the rituals and ceremonies people utilize to process.
Transition a ritual is a mindful series of actions carried out for a specific purpose. I’m guessing like me, you want to nurture your creative spirit. How can rituals strengthen our relationship to our creativity? I wanted to take this opportunity to delve deeper into that concept. The question of how ritual.
Relates to all the kinds of creative conversations that is possible to have with the material world and with ourselves.
Hey everyone. It’s Matthew from episode one material fields, and one of the strangest creative rituals that I have for my art practice. Cleaning
B because I use my space, my studio to host events and to teach others how to work with clay. I, I often only get to use my space after. I’ve already been in it all day long. And so I, I have classes with lots of kids or adults or I’m teaching and when they all leave, I clean, I wipe the tables down. I mopped the floor and then that’s when it becomes my time to use my space and over the last decade or so I’ve become, um, I’ve gotten to where I’ve associated the act of cleaning.
Uh, my own time and my own practice to, to work on my art. So it’s the gateway to my creative space. Uh, I tend to have this bubbling excitement about how I’m going to work space and how I’m going to use it. And I’m, to be honest, going to really destroy it again and make a big giant mess. My best ideas.
While I’m wiping clay off of the table or wiping it off of a Potter’s wheel. I start thinking about what I’m going to make. I really associate that whole practice of going through the studio thoroughly and cleaning it up with the act of making a giant mess again. So I don’t, I don’t really know how do I make sense out of that, but that’s a part of my practice.
Part of my creative space is. Is making sure that it’s nice and clean right before I utterly destroy it.
If you have any. Rituals that tie into your creative practice. What are they? And could you share that? Do I,
I caught up on the phone with Danielle the Weaver from episode two. What I realized is that a huge part of my. Creative practice for me to really get into it. I had rituals that I didn’t even realize that they were rituals. What I’ve found is that when I create my space to feel like home that’s ritual for me.
So when I come in, it already feels like home. It doesn’t feel. Work to me in my studio, the way that I have set it up is that the center piece is a communal table that has benches all the way around it. And it has flowers. It has has taro cards on it. It has pieces that when, when people come and they sit at that table, they ask about them.
So when I walk into the school, It’s something that like the, I generally goes directly to the center of it is, um, home and connection. And so bef usually before I get into my work, I sit down at the space, even if I’m by myself and I feel that, that connection. Um, so for me, it’s, it’s about bringing in plants.
It’s about bringing in, um, it’s about bringing things. The sent to me that don’t necessarily have anything to do with my work. They bring just a feeling of home and connection. The other thing for me around ritual is I think for a really long time, um, I look. Cleaning and things like that as procrastination.
And what I’ve found is that cleaning and, uh, placing things within my space is actually a ritual that clears my energy and brings me into a place of being able to work, um, and be in my creative space. And so, um, Yeah, just that idea of procrastination has really switched into, oh, is actually ritual. Let me go into the space.
And usually my entire state of being is very different from when I first go into the planning process, to the I’m ready to work. That allows me to be really messy in my space when I’m working. And then the cleanup process actually like ties it all back together and clears the space for the next person.
I love the idea of creating an intentional centerpiece in the creative space where you think make work dream. And I’ve noticed now that two of our creatives have mentioned tidying or cleaning as an important ritual. Next I chatted with Dominique, the woodworker from episodes.
I think for me, definitely. Um, just this past year, having a workspace, that’s kind of separate from my living space has really helped kind of like set the boundary of this is where I create work. And then keeping that, that balance, that like, kind of like work-life balance. I think it makes a huge difference because before, you know, those lines were kind of blurred and then having this workspace, it kind of helped me realize, oh, like, even if you know that day, I’m not really feeling creative.
I’m not waiting for time stuck on something, just coming into the workspace, seeing kind of like my tools, like what I have in progress. And just seeing the material kind of gets my brain like in the right space. It’s it’s almost instant. Soon as I get here, I just, I immediately am in the, like the right space and, and can kind of get going and just focus on what I need to do.
I think a lot of people resonated with that. Like just having a physical space, having tools around you that suddenly your mind shifts and that’s like the focus, right. I dunno for me, sometimes I need, for some reason I need to like change my outfit or like when I do narration, I dress up. Yeah. Like even though no one can see me, I don’t know.
Is there anything like that that you do? Yes. I bought, um, a work apron from Morgan who D who runs, uh, Mo Marie Oakland. They do like handmade bags and it was in things. And I was kind of, I’d already been for a long time. I was like, There. I really want mine, you know, I’ll eventually I’ll get one. And so this year I finally said, okay, I’m doing this for myself.
I’m going to get a working brand. Um, they have this color that I really loved and I was like, okay, I’m doing it. And even just when I get here and I put on that, you bring like that also just like. Okay. I’m like, okay, now I’m in the zone. Like ready to go. Um, I love that. It’s like a dormant you’re adorning yourself.
Yeah. Um, and before, you know, it was just like, yeah, I’ll just kind of go on, you know, like I’ll around whatever, although something that’s like already dirty and I’m just going to get dirty. Anyway. It doesn’t really matter what, like, yeah. It’s surprising that throwing on something like a working brand, just kind of.
Well, like, okay. Like I’m ready for anything. That’s your superhero Cape. Yeah.
Hey Catherine, that’s red. I wonder if you remember me from the. The cocktails episode of material fuels and these Marriott new endeavors that life continues to lay at our feet. I think ours, a new pronoun and what, I don’t want to use them. They, his hers, ours. Yeah. I’m thinking about new ritual, how I’m approaching all this work that keeps unfolding, um, when it’s time to.
To engage the work when it’s time to build a new bread or write a new rollout, or I guess craft a new cocktail. I, um, I try to clear the space and invite whoever’s there to guide me in, make sure I have a queen. Pallet to begin with in whatever regard, do some breathing, try to clear as much of my, of my imbalances as I can, especially if I’m preparing something to nourish it.
Okay. Or something that can potentially alter this date of someone else. I invite whoever’s in the room. All of my crew that looks out for me closer. I want to receive as much information as possible. I want to be a transmission for that information for the light of that information. And so a lot of that comes by recognizing.
Who and what I am and how truly plural that is. Yeah. I think those are good starts.
Hello everyone. This is associate producer. Liz. I was featured in the episode of material. Feels on sound. I also write an original song inspired by each episode of material fields. And I contribute underscore the way that I know that it’s time for me to play music or right. I can feel it in my body if I haven’t played for a certain amount of time.
I can just feel the anxiety in my body and my stomach and my throat. Um, I feel on edge and it clicks and I’m like, oh, I need to hold a guitar very every year. Or I feel like I got a little bit better. I could that feeling before it gets like super intense. Um, but it’s so funny how, how easy it is to forget and take for granted how important.
Experience and practices of just sitting down and playing and like, thinking about it, like play time, you know, I’m not necessarily sitting down and practicing scales or, or anything like that. It’s just, uh, it’s like, oh, let me just hold this instrument. That helps me feel grounded and, and, you know, Um, like my full self, if I listened to a song that just, I dunno, it just like moves me in this particular way.
I get this, I get this feeling, this like warm feeling in my chest. It’s like an adrenaline rush kind of, I, I know that that’s a time to go and play because it’s, you know, embodied inspiration and therefore having, um, some kind of like physical. Practice is really important for me too. I’ve been trying to, you know, every day, just do a little something active that that kind of roots helps me to, um, stay consistently connected to myself.
Part of allowing myself the space, whatever time I need. Build up to, you know, writing and working on a song is maybe doing something else. That’s creative. Like I’ve gotten, I’ve gotten really into sewing. Um, that’s a positive thing that the time at home during COVID has, has offered to me is like maybe some creative problem solving because I have limited skills have this sort of like urge to, to create something to literally like create, make something, recognizing that that is an important step in my ritual.
To get to this point where I can really like connect and open up to myself, I’m realizing more and more like the music that I make is like, it’s like super personal. And it’s often really intimidating to think about sitting down and working on it because that means I’m going to have to probably acknowledge and face some like challenging feelings that I’m having.
And I’m not always ready to do that. Learning to be gentle with myself ongoing process.
This episode was recorded on various indigenous lands from Dominique Matthew XY, Zach and Lexus residing on a lonely land and the so-called bay area to Danielle residing on the lands of the Nipmuck or freshwater people. Deborah phoned in from the land of the Lenny Manabe people and Alicia and Carolyn are recorded on the ancestral lands of the Southern Ute Indian tribe.
This episode’s narration was recorded on the land and produced and mixed on the lands of the Mohicans, the people of the waters that are never still, I learned this all through a living interactive map, compiled by native land, digital and indigenous led organizations, striving to foster conversations about the history of colonialism, indigenous ways of knowing and settler indigenous relations through educational reasons.
Visit their email@example.com or you can filter the map to learn about territories, languages and or trees all over the world. This interactive map is an incredible introductory resource for learning about the occupied lands. Notice. Here is an excerpt from native land digital’s mission native land digital strives to go beyond old ways of talking about indigenous people and to develop a platform where indigenous communities can represent themselves in their histories on their own terms, native land, digital create spaces where non-indigenous people can be invited and challenged to learn more about the lands, land habit, the history of those lands, and how to actively be a part of a better future going forward together.
Next we hear from Zach, the fire spinner and music maker from the season two teaser on the art of pie.
First, I have to always make sure that like, I’m feeling it, then I’m able to, uh, bring myself there. And that’s not always the case for me, but I can come from a. Neutral state, I suppose, into a much more creative state by step two, which is opening myself needing to make sure that I am open. I firmly believe that the creative process, uh, regardless of if you’re working with other physical people is a collaborative event, whether that’s.
You know, based on your belief system, you collaborating with God or spirits, energies, or even just parts of yourself. There’s a lot of communication that’s happening. So being open to that, and then the third part is maintaining that communication being open and then creating a dialogue with that, engaging with it.
Hello, this is Alicia and Carolina from Pineywoods Atlas. And we were part of the episode on time. So in discussing our creative ritual, um, in procuring for working on Pinewood Atlas, we realized that our ritual is actually discussion, um, as a, a collaborative project. We need to kind of just talk about things in order to figure out where to go next.
Yeah. And part of talking about what our creative ritual is, we both realized that neither of us separate our lives from our creative practice. We both have woven it into our everyday life. So everything about getting ready for the day, making our beverage, getting out of our pajamas, doing yoga and meditation.
Is part of life and it’s part of our art. Yep. That’s it.
It’s from the episode on paper. And my ritual when I’m getting ready to work is to make a hot cup of tea. And then I put on my noise, canceling headphones, something about closing in my auditory soundscape, um, really helps me focus. It helps me get in the zone, even if I’m not listening to anything. And even if the background noise isn’t even that bad, um, something about having that, just that silence and the covering over my ears really helps me get in.
The zone and feel really focused.
I have three books near my bed, which I never completely finished. I use them as imagination. This is Deborah, by the way, the glass artists we chatted with in April of 22. So I’ll choose one, open it to a page randomly and read that page. And my mind will just start soaring with the imagination, imaginative ideas.
One of the books is the central room and Coleman barks. Another is the feast journal, but John’s me and another is Eric from CRN is loving. These are all older books because I’ve been doing this. My body is put in a creative state with monotony. If I’m sitting in a train, looking out a window at a landscape, I have an empty mind with very little stimulation.
The magic happens. That’s when new creative thoughts are put in there, I can simulate this with a sleep app. So a pre sleep state and the monotony of a train ride, a similar, but my most creative time is a pre wake state. So if I had a very deep sleep before the weekend, I start to come into consciousness and that moment is the single most creative time of my life.
I guess I should be taking one now.
Um, my name is Lexus Joseph and I own and run case for making with a wonderful team of people. Um, and right now this is my art practice, running this small business with some lovely people who are helping to run it with me. And I actually live around the corner. So what helps me. In the right frame of mind is my stroll.
My two minutes versus stroll around the corner. I just helps me to physically leave one space and enter another kind of leave that mind mental space of being at home and taking care of things there and think about what I need to do when I get into the shop and into my office and what I need to do. It also helps to sort of be with everybody here in this space and work together and check in with each other as we’re both, as we’re all kind of getting ready for our day, see if there’s any personal updates and then sort of transitioned into all right.
Like what do we, what do we need to get done today and how are we going to tackle this together? And are we also going to. Fun doing it. Yeah. So thanks everybody.
You’ve just heard from a collection of people who work with a wide range of materials from professionals, working artists, people who have home studios in their living rooms, nomads on the road, writers, art educators. I loved how each person had a vividly unique experience. But there were some overlaps, there were themes of tidying, a space or limiting your sensory input.
I also noticed a theme of communicating with others. We collaborate with touching base with whatever creative energy you call it. Paying attention to feelings inside of your body, a specific outfit, or having a specific drink, sparking imagination with imaginative devices or leaning into monotonous, relaxed states of mind.
Usually we associate monotony with boredom or wasted time, and I love how Debra and Matthew and other creatives are noticing that that time is actually. A great way to have the Moraine relax enough that we open up to possibility and allow it inspiration to come to us instead of constantly seeking out gratification entertainment, and a quote unquote, valuable experience.
I want to share more about the artist residency that Liz and I are engaging with this summer associate producer, Liz and I are currently in freehold, New York to be a part of the freehold art exchange, a residency program based on 57 acres of land in the Catskills. We’ll be teaming up with investigative reporter and audio storyteller.
Lucy came to explore sound as a storytelling medium. After a week of audio, Liz and Lucy will head home and I’ll be joined by beekeeper and roll and fiber artists Selena. For a week-long residency focusing on pollinators. I want to tell you how this residency came to be so that I can demystify the application process and kind of share how leaning into possibility and allowing for flexibility.
You can manifest what you actually want. I decided to apply to freehold because of the advice of Alicia, my good friend, former guests on the show and a co-creator of Pinewood Atlas. If I were to apply to any of the residencies that you and Carolina have cataloged across the nights. Which one would you recommend?
She answered. I think you will like freehold and she was right. It’s in my home state, surrounded by the nature that I love with a ceramic studio onsite and a focus on the environment and social justice. I applied and received an invitation to attend and the director Piper and COVID willing I would visit during the summer of 2021 because the farmhouse can accommodate up to six artists.
Piper asked me if I would consider curating a group residence. I had never carried it a group residency before, and I was excited to bring others into the experience as you heard earlier, Liz and I have never actually been in person working on the show together. This has been a pandemic project, a bi-coastal project.
We communicate over texts and zoom calls with me working late into the night on the west coast to get something to Liz in the am. On the east coast. This residency is a chance for the two of us to be together. And I also wanted to explore more of audio and widen the experience. I put out a call for applications in the back area through various audio list serves.
We clicked with Lucy and it was a goal. As you can imagine, taking a couple of weeks off for an artist residency, whether you’ve got a nine to five job, you’ve got freelance gigs, your family life, whatever structures you have in place. It can be difficult. And so even though we had two weeks available, things shifted throughout the year and Lucy and Liz could only come for one week.
I was feeling like, okay, fine. I will just spend the following week doing my own thing. But then Lucy suggested that I create a second residency with a second batch of artists. I was intrigued. What would it be about. I would have already completed a week of audio and audio is like my thing these days, maybe I could switch it up and do something completely different.
If I could choose anything to explore for one week, who would I want to learn from and build community with and what would I want to focus on? I’ve become more and more fascinated with bees and spoiler alert. I know that I will be doing a future episode on bees wax as an art material. After watching a few documentaries, starting to obsess over pollinators in general.
And falling in love with the properties of wax. I thought, you know, why don’t I do a week long residency? See for folks who have a connection to pollinators bees or bees wax, I created an application for the second week and posted it on material fields. Instagram page to dreaming artists apply Selena. A fiber artist whose parents were beekeepers and he was interested in urbalism making their own solves as a form of healing.
And it was a way of connecting to a world around them. An Angie, a beekeeper who has been in the business for 10 years. They’re also a facilitator where they teach people what we can learn from the way that bees organize themselves. By the time this episode drops, I will be. Sick of these two residencies.
I can’t wait to share my experiences with you when I researched this before we close out, I want to mention something on this show that I lean into often both as a narrative tool, but also as a life philosophy, rabbit holes. It’s when I sit with a person and focus on a particular material, but other topics come out of the woodwork that I want to explore.
I think there is intrinsic value in following those rabbit holes that spark your interest. Often we’re slowed down by external forces or ourselves. We’re told that the rabbit hole isn’t appropriate. It’s not the right time. We get the message. Hey, you’re not a rabbit. You shouldn’t be going down that hole or what’s the point?
How do you know what is on the other side? How can you tell it’s worth it? And so a lot of rabbit holes go unexplored. A lot of tunnels go untraveled. The ideas and concepts teaming underground are kept there because once we start excavating, we will discover that the world is much deeper and vast than we ever.
We can’t just go back to the above ground, where we were focused on the fruit of the tree instead of the network of mycelium that similar to neurons has infinite ability to grow and expand. This episode has me phoning in from my own series of rabbit holes. I’m calling you to invite you underground.
What tunnels are UI. I’m not entirely certain what will come from these two weeks at freehold, but I can set an intention and an invitation because you are a part of the potion too. You’ll be there with me in spirit because I’m sitting with audio for one week and B’s for the second week and I’ll be crafting and exploring and expressing myself.
I’ll be building out something that eventually I will share with. I want it to send out this update and let you know what I’m up to and kind of open the door to sharing something I’ve never done before with you. I also wanted to share the behind the scenes activities that lead up to an artist, residency, the back and forth, trying a new thing, the serendipity and the commitment necessary to make it happen.
I don’t believe it’s mystical. I don’t believe it’s a luck and I don’t believe it’s impossible. I was inspired by the people I spoke to by the organic evolution of this show and the conversations. It generates that momentum propelled me forward to step into these unknown places. So in typical material feels fashion.
I leave you with two questions first, if you could design your own artist residency for. What would you choose to focus on? And who would you want to go with? Secondly, what rituals in your life? Can you connect to creative impulses?
material feels is produced by me. Your host, Catherine Monahan. I’m a writer and audio storyteller with a background in art associate producer, Elizabeth Elise composes, original music for the show as well. This episode features sounds from www dot. Work as well as underscores by MSF X and music created just for the show by Elizabeth.
The show is a labor of love and your contributions mean the world. Here’s how you can support our creative community. Share the show with your friends and your family. Overshare. It just do it. Spill the beans post about the show on social media and follow us on Instagram at material fields, all one word contribute to the black freedom fellowship.
Residency that de-colonize colonizes travel and supports black artists pay Shumi me or contribute financially to local indigenous led groups. Check out brown sugar botanicals are sponsor and continue falling in love with the material world and falling down those rabbit holes in whatever way feels good to you.
See you next time.