Sunday, December 20, 2009

To Create a Creche-Like Calm as the Solstice Enfolds Us

I've always been vaguely aware that the creche scene offered wide possibilities as an art form, but it wasn't until I saw an exhibit at Mepkin Abbey that I really understood that the creche could be post-modern, surreal, or something more than the generally insipid creche scenes that I'd seen before. The Abbey has a slide show up at their website, and I highly recommend it, even if you're not a Christian, not into creche scenes, not a Christmas person . . .

This time of year consumes us all, to some extent, no matter how much we resist. It's the rare person who doesn't find their pace of life shifting into hectic mode in December. Many of us are also working longer hours, if we're lucky enough to have held onto our jobs, because work forces have been slashed, and those of us left behind often have to do several jobs.

I love something we can do at our computers to encourage us to take time out, to breathe, to reflect on what's important. Many of us have Internet access at work, and you can visit a website, and it will look like you're working (unlike, say, if you did some yoga positions or went into full meditation mode or baked Christmas cookies in the company kitchen).

I also love this slide show because it shows us that wide range of construction materials that creche makers can employ. There are creches made of clay, wood, and other traditional materials. There are also creches made of castaway cloth, tightly rolled up, and made into figures. There's a creche made of old-fashioned clothespins. Several are made with paper.

I've always felt fortunate to be a poet, because I've never been at a point where I couldn't afford pen and paper. These creche scenes show us that beautiful art can be made with all sorts of materials.

In December, I find my brain circling back to the Christmases of my childhood, which took place as much in church as at home. I think of Christmas pageants, which were living creche scenes, among other things. I think of how we decorated, with the simple creche that my parents bought years earlier in Scandinavia, and with other, more complicated creche scenes we picked up along the way.

I find myself wanting to create something whimsical, something more than words on paper. I often venture into fabric art as my alternate creative endeavor, but lately, I've been stitching baby blankets, something practical, something that I can do without thinking.

Maybe this week, as Christmas approaches, I'll haul out my art supplies, my beads and cloth, my box of buttons. Maybe I'll create a creche of my own.

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