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  • Kaecey McCormick

Finding Inspiration in Art


The natural world plays a central role in my writing. It shows up in the descriptions, images, and comparisons I make. And it’s what provides inspiration much of the time—especially since I take (almost) daily hikes. For example, this morning on my hike, the colors of the leaves and grass against the mud, the sweet, yeasty smell of wet moss and earth, and the way the early morning light filtered through the dripping trees inspired several poetry “starts.”


Visual art is another big source of inspiration. Both the making of it and the viewing of it. Last week, I’d planned to take myself on a solo date to an art museum to soak up the paintings, sculptures, and other media and re-fill my creative inspiration well. But I have celiac disease, and as luck would have it, I got what I call “glutaminated” (aka hit with gluten). This meant my energy to both create and go out in the world was low.


Instead of giving up on soaking up new-to-me visual art, I decided to take advantage of one of the positive things to come out of the COVID pandemic and visit a new-to-me art museum through their virtual exhibit. I’ve never been to Brazil, but given the World Cup action going on last week, the country was top of mind. So when I decided on where to virtually visit, the Museu de Arte de São Paulo (MASP) seemed like an appropriate choice.


The MASP didn’t disappoint. Created in collaboration with Google Arts and Culture, the MASP offers seven online exhibits. These exhibits aren’t simply slideshow pictures of art with the artist’s name and media listed below. The online exhibits take you deeper into the pieces with ongoing commentary. When I went through “Art from Brazil until 1900,” I felt like I was on a docent-led tour through a gallery where details and important contextual information are pointed out.


The exhibit “Histories of madness: the drawings of Juquery” stuck with me long after my virtual visit ended. Crafted from pencil and pen and crayon on paper, rather than showcasing the work of classically trained or self-taught artists, the drawings included in the exhibit were made by patients in a psychiatric hospital in São Paulo (the Hospital Psiquiátrico do Juquery). The works encompass a wide variety of styles and techniques, and each artist focuses on different subjects.


I was drawn to this exhibit as much of my own work reflects mental health and the intersection of it with other themes or ideas central to my identity. And as someone with a visual art practice, I “left” the museum thinking about how I could combine my two artistic forms of expression to deepen my explorations around different questions or generate variety in my work.


Where do you find inspiration for your creativity? Tell me about it in the comments on this post or by contacting me directly!


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