Nature is Magnificently Creative and Inspiring
If you are not familiar with Bing, it’s a wonderful search engine that presents a different, stunning photograph on their landing page every day. The images are always wonderful, guaranteed to delight and inspire. Today’s image was the incredible photograph of Jersey tiger moths above. Talk about nature as an inspiration for visual art! Thanks to Bing, my favorite search engine (or, as they like to call themselves, a “decision engine”), I discovered the bowerbird. More importantly, I discovered bowerbirds’ highly artistic nests.
Spring is in the air, and along with the pollen clogging my inundated lungs, it delivers the music of optimism to my soul each morning as I walk Ziggy, my ever-faithful companion. The cacophony of bird songs around the ‘hood fills me with awe, wonder and delight as I watch these industrious birds — their beaks filled with straw, bits of paper and plastic scraps — flutter back and forth, creating their nests. As a bird’s nest aficionado, I have been collecting abandoned ones for some time now, eventually using them in my sculptural series as a symbol for new beginnings, fresh starts. Isn’t that what spring is all about? Creating spaces and cultivating optimism to make way for growth.
“Blessed are they who see beautiful things in humble places where other people see nothing.” – Camille Pissarro
But back to the bowerbird. At first glance, I thought the featured image was a remarkable sculpture by noteworthy artist Patrick Dougherty — but no! It was an incredibly sculptural nest created by an Australian bowerbird in its annual pursuit to attract the opposite sex.
“Art takes nature as its model.” – Aristotle
Every spring, “Mr. Bower” carefully constructs his nest, piece by piece, with focused attention towards beauty and craftsmanship. The nest must be not only visually alluring but also built to withstand the elements. It must be strong and protective. After this attentive construction, he thoughtfully collects and places a variety of brightly colored objects around this edifice. These objects can include hundreds of shells, leaves, flowers, feathers, stones, berries, and even what we would consider “trash” — discarded plastic items, coins, nails, rifle shells, pieces of glass. The hours he spends arranging his personal, highly individual collection around the newly built nest is reminiscent of many of our creative practices.
“I found I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn’t say any other way – things I had no words for.” – Georgia O’Keeffe
Sometimes our interior lives are not quite speech-ready, but we need a symbolic place to hold the inexpressible ideas and unidentifiable emotions we might feel. It is difficult to honor the space between what is no longer and what is yet to be. Creativity can help us hold this space just as a nest is shaped to hold eggs.
Cultivating Optimism with Healing Icons
The imaginative, creative springtime nest-building ritual of the bowerbird has inspired our upcoming Saturday retreat, Cultivating Optimism During Difficult Times, where we will explore the meaning of this ancient, universal symbolic ritual of nest-building by creating a visual symbol — a healing icon — to represent a home for the cultivation of hope and renewal. Be sure to check our Inspiration pinboard next month to see how the bowerbird has inspired us!
In the meantime, why not tell us how you go about cultivating optimism? What inspires you?