Mental Musings
Our therapy team shares their thoughts on creativity, psychology, human behavior, and living better

The Art of Making Do

Sunday, April 5 10:51 PM

"It is the limitation of means that determines style, gives rise to new forms and makes creativity possible”
-Georges Braque

In the midst of a global crisis we are all discovering that we can do a lot with a little.  We are finding ourselves forced to make do, whether it's what's for dinner or rationing our in-home toilet paper supply or in getting creative so we don't go stark raving mad. We've decided to take inspiration from some of professionals. Many contemporary artists have made striking, evocative and beautiful art with non-art materials they had on hand. They “make do” within the limitations, with spectacular results.

Vik Muniz is an artist well known for using materials such as chocolate syrup, pasta and sugar to make art. The documentary film, Wasteland, follows Muniz as he creates portraits of Brazilian garbage pickers using the assembled garbage itself.

James Castle used found paper, soot and saliva to make assemblages.

Andy Goldsworthy used what nature provides to create ephemeral works in the wild.

Anthropologie’s window displays often make use of ordinary materials manipulated in extraordinary ways. Examples of “the art of making do” are sweeping social media right now.

Swedish artist Magnus Murh's illustrations of anthropomorphized dead flies.

The Getty Museum has issued a challenge on twitter to create a favorite work of art using people and three things around the house.

The Getty Museum challenge has gone viral. Why?

Humans are wired to both create and connect, and here’s the not-so-secret-secret: we don’t need fancy supplies to do so. It’s fun, uplifting and enlivening to be creative with what we’ve got around the house, and to share that creativity and ingenuity with others. Little children know how to play like this, but some of us adults have lost touch with our own potential. Once we tap back into it, it’s like a secret mojo has been tapped. Sol Le Witt said to Eva Hesse, “Try to tickle something inside of you, your “weird humor."

We can be pleasantly surprised we’ve still got it in us to play so joyfully and flourish under limitation and constraint. You think you can’t, but then you do and it feels so good. These may seem like lofty examples, but everyone has potential to use what they’ve got and make something special. A dead bug is a diamond in the rough. Don’t underestimate your lunch plate, what nature has to offer, the dust under your bed or that doo-dad you are about to throw in the garbage.

My husband likes to modify food packaging with a sharpie and leaves them like easter eggs in the pantry to delight us. Last week we had a dusting of snow and I went out to the porch in my pajamas to make a 5 minute mini-snowman.

As Tim Gunn says, “Make it work.”

These are not ordinary times.