Returning to Creativity with Woman, Create
Written by Cate Cue, Artdrop Creatives Team
Featured artwork: The Mind Muse by Woman, Create & Clarisse Provido
At Artdrop, we believe in the ability of Filipino artists to inspire the people around them. We strive to be a community that cultivates their art, as well as their stories. That said, we are excited to announce our collaboration with Marika Callangan, the founder of Woman, Create – a platform that empowers women to express themselves through the process of making and sharing their work.
For Marika, it is through the creative process that people are able to take their next steps into courage; into connecting with others around them. Diving deeper into her advocacy of feminism intertwined with art, we asked what the creative process means to her and how it manifests in her life.
“Creativity is the way to commune with the soul; here, we find home and become free. It's where you are the most true to yourself. For me, it's a way, a place, and an identity.”
“Whatever profession I choose, may it be design or art or teaching or marketing, I want it to be closest to creativity. Through the many bouts of my life, I noticed whenever I spend too long away from creativity or any form of creative act (this includes the process of ideating), I feel restless, listless, and dry. I feel like my life is going nowhere, and I feel the suffocation of systems even more.”
“Engaging in creative acts is like growing invisible seeds that intend to cultivate the soul. So, whenever I cut myself off from creativity, I cut myself from my own soul. And the repercussions of that are the source of my anxieties.”
Anxiety has been a constant throughout this year – anxiety for the future as well as the changes that come with it. What were some of the changes you experienced? How were you affected by everything?
“By day, I'm a full time art teacher at an institution. I think the biggest change I experienced (and struggled with) in this pandemic was the loss of my students and the sudden transition to the online space. "Loss of students" meaning my energy as a teacher/speaker is driven from them and their stories. And no longer seeing and feeling their energy face to face really hit me hard. So this "loss" can also be attributed to a loss of identity. Then, many of us had no idea how to be effective on an online platform, which takes so much away versus having face to face teaching. There is just so much limitation. Often, it makes me want to scream. Till today, this sentiment remains. Overall, the energy is just completely different. I think many educators today would understand what I mean. Just because we have adapted doesn't mean that we don't continue to feel this sense of loss.”
“Anyway, because everything shifted so fast and we had to adapt equally as fast, I remember working extra hard trying to learn new things, trying to crack module-writing, trying to crack the virtual platform and figuring out how to manage my time with double the workload. Just trying to figure this online learning, distance learning thing out. I know I gave my entire being just trying to re-learn how to be a teacher - but in a virtual platform. Today, I am confident to say that one year later, I have mastered this. But I remember how often I was pulled away from creativity last year, which resulted in my always feeling burdened, tired, and barren.”
Aside from the "loss," there was anxiety and feeling frantic because I was feeling nothingness. Then, when I would engage in it (specifically, for the Woman, Create #ArtforMedPH campaign for frontliners), I remember feeling just "right" or "coming back home" and it reflected through my works. I think many people also felt that change in me significantly. I felt encouraged when I received the works of my own students last semester - I know we're all struggling and we're isolated, but beauty was found and fought for. And my students, through their art, also played a huge part in leading me back home. And so, in all this sense of losslessness, my creative energy thrived even more.”
“As for relationships, I guess because I was overworked and dealing with anxiety, I pushed myself further into my cave. So currently, it's been a struggle to just keep in touch with people - friends and family. Whatever my friends and family know of me, it's through my social media, and only my closest workmates are the sponges to my rants. Also, because I spend most of the day already in front of a virtual platform - connecting through Zoom or Gmeet after work hours, just does not entice me, like it drives me even more anxious. Overall, I'm alright being alone for long periods of time, but of course, the negative effects were about the slow eating away of my soul. This year, I adopted a cat to have as company during this time of isolation. She has been a source of joy and has motivated me to engage with people even more these days.”
What steps did you take to help yourself cope, connect, and even create again? What fears and uncertainties did you have to overcome?
“It happens in bouts or explosions. One day, everything was just boiling up and I just felt so ugly. And then I remember getting the desire of wanting to create polymer clay earrings, and I wanted these earrings to make me feel like a goddess. And that drive just got me going to restart my handmade earrings brand, Dear Kara PH. Compared to the year prior when I made polymer clay earrings, I felt so much stress doing them or perhaps it was because I was new to making polymer clay? I don't know, but anyway, making them again last year, I just felt so at peace and happy, while feeling challenged.”
“Same thing with Woman, Create's #ArtforMedPH campaign - I was feeling so barren with everything going on and I saw that hashtag going around Twitter. Apparently, anyone who is an artist could participate or create an initiative and I just thought - why not make Woman, Create come alive again? I just got to work. And it all felt so natural. When I started making collages again, it felt so easy and I felt when I saw images from my collage kits and sheets, I just felt all the pieces in my head clicking; or like planets aligning. Overall, my entire being was exploding with "ahas" and "oohs" as I was making with each work. Of course, the people noticed how different my works felt and so I was further encouraged by that. Even when I was doing logistics, I didn't feel burdened like compared with my day job. Again, it just all felt so natural and light.”
“The fears I've been wrestling with revolve more around if the work I'm making satisfies my innate being. Am I making work that satisfies me? And if it doesn't satisfy me, how can it satisfy others? I think this fear stems more from vanity and I can't seem to get around it. I'm highly critical of my own work, and while that's great, I end up cutting myself off from creativity. Lately, I've been easing up on myself.”
“I want to commune more with my soul, to return home, so I need to let myself become intuitive, to trust in the unknown and just fall in that galaxy space in my unconscious mind. Sometimes, the satisfaction of the soul just takes a breath of wonder, that "ooh" or "aha" moment after the entire work is done and all the pieces have been stitched together.”
Can you tell us where you are at the moment, creatively speaking? How have you “arrived” to where you are now? And how do you see yourself moving forward?
“I think I am at the pinnacle of soul death, I am in the heart of the desert, the edge of a cliff. In short, the losslessness is building into a culminating event and I am feeling the boils of it. I am becoming afraid of the things that are currently happening - away from creativity. This is propelling me to engage in the creative act and to keep engaging in it, so I do not lose myself completely in this abyss. So this opportunity with Artdrop has been one of those propelling forces, thank you!”
“Overall, I just really want to come back home to art and give it a full shot again. I also want to be a creative that respects my own rest and the slowness of works. All throughout my life, I've been such a fireball when it comes to work that I never really let the art breathe. Or myself. I just want everything done now or by a certain timeline. I think I want to veer away from that moving forward and take it easy. I want art to be as slow as reading a book. I think this is where my soul thrives most when I do this. I've been ideating since January, and I'm excited to make these ideas come to life over time.”
The path to creativity may not be smooth but it certainly is a path worth taking. The pains and uncertainties we face are often crippling, but it’s important to remember that courage takes small steps and every step is one step closer towards progress; to understanding who we once were and who we can be in the future.
“I have not arrived yet, I am returning. I am finding my way back and a way out of this desert. And because of this desire, I am motivated to just keep moving until I see things come to life. That's how I am as a creative. Or as a person, in general. I am driven by the fact that even in isolation, beauty can be found as long as we fight for it.”
The Woman, Create Collection will drop this May 1, 2021 and will be available for purchase for two weeks only. Stay tuned and save the date. This artist is definitely worth supporting. #SupportFilipinoArtists