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from the “Five Mysteries” series by Karin Nishi Marcus

“Without passion, all the skill in the world won’t lift you above craft. Without skill, all the passion in the world will leave you eager but floundering. Combining the two is the essence of the creative life.” — Twyla Tharp

“Change everything, except your passions.” — Voltaire

The wooden ladders of the ancient Anasazi cliff dwellers were used both to ascend to their abodes and to descend into the kiva, the realm of the inner communal, collective spirit. Now, as the first Caerus Artist Residency draws to a close, is the moment for heightened reflection about the scope of our experiences, both personal and community, as well as the practical of sweeping our studios – to derive the lessons from our involvement with this self-directed studio residency and to formulate future progression.

A colleague asked me the other day, “Why is this residency any different from just going to your studio as usual?”  This is challenging to articulate. There is an intangible, subtle alteration.  The focus of a theme or project, the pledge to commit to a certain amount of time, and sharing in a  the community of other artists result in a different magic and alchemy than regular studio time.

What is different for me is the feeling that there are other artists in the world who are along with me on this journey in the studio, that the energy from the group and the energy from the enthusiastic universe convene and combine to form something incandescent.

There has been a great range of expressed experiences – some may have struggled, others found amusement. Some might have discovered that once they began – circumstances changed and they had to revamp their theme and their concept of what the residency would yield. There are those who may have uncovered that, once they gave themselves the gift of time of this residency, that a sudden, compulsive need, boarding on requirement, to relax and play manifested. Whether you feel drained or revitalized, all aspects of the engagement of this time are valid.

This time is a crucible to refine our sense of passion.  We enfold in our work, our art and studio practice, and our supportive routines that sustain and enable the atmosphere of crucial creativity to flourish on a changed level. We have experimented with new behaviors, innovative approaches, and freshly minted schedules.  Some have initiated new habits to continue to cultivate and others have had their traditional work routine validated.

Consider using any and all experiences to renew and nourish your passion for creativity. Promise yourself to extend your commitment to supportive habits, routine and ritual. Perhaps you will wish to continue with your theme or project or to branch out in another direction. You may desire to uphold and expand your studio practice and to experiment with the knowledge acquired during Caerus to your on-going creative life in art — at the center of the universe of the artist.

Make a creative compact with your angel of inspiration. You may wish to formalize this contract by posting it on the Caerus Facebook group and follow up with updates for accountability and encouragement.

There is no endgame of creativity.  It is endless. There is endless knowledge to learn forever, constantly expanding, whether magnifying small pleasures, exploring the profound depths of the kiva in honor of our native Ancestors or ascending that ladder to pinnacles of unfathomable heights. The newly forceful presence of passion, stirring in the soul of the artist, compels us to new growth.

What did you learn, what might you do in the future, based on the knowledge from Caerus?

Karina Nishi Marcus

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