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Reconciling Chaos and Creativity: Interviews with Young Creatives

The original title for this article was “Reconciling Morbidity and Creativity.” I formulated that theme one month after the U.S. entered lockdown to pacify the COVID-19 pandemic. Attending online class and spending hours indoors before spring stepped shyly into Michigan, my mind was speckled with nightmares and morbid visions. However, the coming of springtime brought no solace.

Reconciling Chaos and Creativity: Interviews with Young Creatives

Written by Sophia Layton

I looked again at my pondering of morbidity and decided ‘chaos’ was a more suitable descriptor for the world’s collective reality. It turns out, chaos and creativity share an extensive and passionate history. With roots deep in artistic practice, human psychology, and even the ordering of the universe, chaos and creativity have raged and danced. But have they ever danced as deranged as they are now? 

I got back in touch with the young creatives I interviewed when I began my investigation into morbidity and asked them how they were faring in this prolonged semi-apocalypse. How are they reconciling chaos and creativity? 

For industrial and product design major, Eva Zaharakos, grappling with the chaos requires a change of space. Working remotely for Bissell Inc., she says, “I drive to my mom’s office and work there. So I’m separating the office and home. If I didn’t have that option it would be way harder to focus and be creative. Transporting myself into another space gives me inspiration.” 

In another instance of inspiration during quarantine, Eva has gotten back into fine art and has been painting her friends. 

 

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Instead of painting the anxiety of being sad that I couldn’t see them, I wanted to focus more on the positive.

 

Eva Zaharakos, on painting her friends.

Her endeavors are a reminder that a simple change of space or practice can make a creative difference, whether it be moving from one side of the room to the other, or renewing an old hobby. 

For Mundhir Shaheed, a clothing designer from Grand Rapids, productivity has been a reflective and steady process even before lockdowns started in the U.S. Similar to Eva, he is missing his friends. Mundhir and his friends share a brand called Local Hot but the lockdown caused them to put a pause on that. 

With time apart from Local Hot, he’s focusing more on his personal brand which he plans to call, The Warner. When he told me the name, I asked, “kind of like a storm is brewing?” He got excited at that. “It’s funny you say that because my name comes out of the Quran. ‘The warner,’ it was like Noah’s ark, how he warned the people there was a big tsunami coming and everyone was like oh you’re bullshitting we are in the middle of the desert.” 

But as we all have learned, natural disasters happen whether we know how to build an ark or not. Maybe all we can do is find creativity in the midst of chaos as we brace for the waves in an ark made of sand. 

It’s easy for loneliness and fear to pull us under, blinding us of everything save our will to live, but the simple remedy of listening to music or painting a small picture of our friends might just be the rope that pulls us out of the sinkhole. 

Chicago synth-pop artist Skeet Pete makes music like that rope. Spending hours every day in his new ‘jam shack,’ he says “I try to make something that’s catchy, meaningful, and hopefully something that strikes emotion in other people."

 

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A lot of my stuff is about coping with loneliness and isolation, stuff like that. I’m trying to fill that void, in a way. The greater change I’m trying to make is to help people feel less lonely or feel like it’s not uncommon to have these feelings.

Skeet Pete

The sparks of joy that creativity kindles in the minds of Skeet Pete’s listeners and music listeners everywhere is one of many forces that counterbalances the ever-present buzz of chaos all around us. 

So while we all boil in a collective cauldron of loneliness, happiness, and everything in between, how might we grasp at the sparkles of creative energy in the abyss? 

Filmmaker Kate Glad explained to me how she sees the interplay between chaos and creativity: “One thing people don’t really understand about chaos, in general, is a lot of people talk about entropy, but what entropy is, is not more disorganization. It’s more complexity. It’s more complex for the universe to build itself into these structures. Entropy isn’t more disorganization, it’s more complexity and that comes from a bunch of different structures not a bunch of breakdowns.” 

Kate’s perspective inspired me to reconcile chaos and creativity central to interconnectivity, possibility, and the potential that our day to day doldrums might actually be one of the building blocks in the larger framework of the universe.  

In spite of desperation, anxiety, loneliness, or longing––all things very present in the hearts and minds of people across our globe––we can remember that humanity has the unique capacity for creativity. So pick up a paintbrush, begin charting a daily flow, make music or listen to some, participate in this wonderful dance that is the interplay of creativity and chaos.

Or take a rest and enjoy the performance. 

Sophia Layton explores arts and culture writing as an instrument for imbedding herself deeper into both local and global communities of contemporary art and fashion. She is a senior in University of Michigan’s History of Art department and is minoring in Museum Studies and Asian Languages and Culture.

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