Her Creative Collective and the consideration of new paths

Months ago, pre-pandemic, I was pushing myself to begin networking and searching for local opportunities to share my art and Fairy Tree Studios. In early spring, I joined a creative collective that I happened to discover thanks to a Facebook ad, of all things. The collective hosted an event on the first of the month where anyone who wanted to was invited to the studio, to spend some time journaling, reflecting, meditating, etc. in a quiet, welcoming space (even better, there was free coffee and tea). I invited my friend Katie along and spent some time journaling, and afterward we had a good conversation with Dana, the founder, about the Collective and how it worked. An artist (and former nurse) herself, Dana created Her Creative Collective as a means to highlight the importance of mental and spiritual wellness along with creative expression, and to promote the belief that the two go hand in hand. Collective members each specialize in something different, from yoga and creative movement to clean eating to calligraphy and Zentangle. Dana herself is the resident acrylic painter, and I joined as watercolor artist and creative writer.

Some flowers I painted at an early Her Creative Collective workshop, right before I joined

Initially the format was that members could use the physical studio space to host workshops and classes, and I began my membership planning out a couple different watercolor workshops (along with a possible book binding/making workshop). Of course, our first shelter-in-place orders put a halt to all of that — I never even got to meet any of the other collective members in person. Over the summer we had a good series of Zoom meetings to share info and advice about social media and online presence, and adapting to this whole crazy new way of living.

We had planned, in the spring, to record workshops for the HCC website, to create a sort of video library, but as the pandemic got more serious, that took a back burner to kinda just coping with life. Now collective members are coming together to do different live retreats which are recorded for later access — I suppose in a sense still like the webinar, but unedited “live” recordings instead. The Writing with the Moon webinar I keep talking about is my personal first, but the other collective members did a successful six-week course in November and early December, and have more planned for after the new year.

A practice piece for one of the workshops I planned to teach: misty watercolor forests

I have to admit, I’m not very comfortable being on camera — even the 30-second video greeting I had to make for my undergrad students as a T.A. for Theatre 101 felt awkward –though it was something I was willing to try with the Collective’s help when we planned to build our video library. I’m looking forward to getting more comfortable in this format with WwtM, but recently the Collective announced that the studio space will no longer be an option even when the world does open back up, and that the focus will be on retreats (live and virtual) instead. It makes me a little sad to think that we’ll lose the workshop format, as I think that’s where the art and creativity is probably best suited, but I’ll have to reserve my misgivings until after I see how these virtual retreats come together.

We’re all trying to cope and adapt with our more limited options these days, and I realize that I’m fortunate to be invited to take part in this new venture, even if it’s not what I initially signed up for. But I have to admit, it’s quite a pivot from where I thought I would be when I joined. I’m sure that’s true for a lot of people who made any kind of plans for 2020, though.

What activities or pastimes are you participating in virtually (whether or not you did them in person pre-pandemic)? Are you doing more online now that in-person options are limited? And do you see yourself sticking with online activities when in-person events open up again?

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