If you live near or in a city, you’ll most likely be surrounded by diversity and cultures, different perhaps from your own. And whatever your background, it can be very inspiring to observe the habits of other folks and enjoy the foods, fashions and arts of other cultures.

Even the myriad of offerings on TV and social media can be a source of great inspiration and ideas to boost everyday life and add a little spice to our sensory experiences, especially as we age.

Georgia O’Keefe

The most fun I have had in a long time was when I recently visited the Brooklyn Museum to see the exhibition of Georgia O’Keeffe, who had her first show there in 1917. She lived in New York and later moved to New Mexico to pursue her dedication to simplicity and organic forms of art.

 
 

We may all know her iconic paintings, but I had no idea that she was a gifted and careful seamstress who created her own fashion and garments. O’Keefe sewed many beautiful dresses in silk and cotton by hand and was extremely skilful and knowledgeable about fabrics and designs. This has inspired me to look for items that speak to my own aesthetic and to incorporate what is special for me in my own wardrobe and household.

To get a taste of the exhibition visit the museum website. It is open until the end of July 2017 and will then travel to other parts of the country. What struck me, as a crafter myself, was the intensity and clarity of her creative living and her ability to surround herself with beautiful and natural accessories and objects of her desire for very little money.

Frida Kahlo

Another great inspiration is Frida Kahlo, the Mexican painter, who is mostly known for her intense self-portraits. Although I did not make it to the Botanical Garden in New York for the exhibition last year, I have always loved her traditional Mexican clothing and jewellery, which is inspiring for those of us who love bright colors and the arts and crafts with which she surrounded herself.

PBS produced a lovely film about her, “The Life and Times of Frieda Kahlo”, in 2005. There is lots of information and inspiration on PBS’ website about her life and her art.

Bringing Art and Creativity into the Way We Live

What O’Keefe and Kahlo have in common is the strong presence of nature and art in the personal creative living, which both of these two female artists so beautifully accomplished. Personally, my job in the financial department in the United Nations, which is all figures and accounting procedures, does not have much creativity.

Obviously, I would not show up to work dressed in one of Frieda Kahlo’s colourful dresses! But I realised that I don’t have to go to a museum to nurture my interest in living as art. I am surrounded by women representing diverse cultures, some of whom incorporate creativity and art in their daily lives, just enough of it to be visible even in the sometimes-restrictive corporate work place.

For example, some of my colleagues from Japan are very fond of flowers and bring amazing flower arrangements to work when they have the chance. The colors and techniques follow the traditional Japanese art form of arranging flowers, which evokes nature in a very special and exotic way.

A colleague from Ireland loves to tell stories and has a great ear for interesting tales and stories from the present and past. She interviews people she meets who have interesting lives and pursuits, using very simple recording equipment. She produces small radio and sometimes video spots, which she shares with friends and colleagues. She is able to distill that ability into something highly creative and useful.

My colleagues who are into fitness and exercise often wear clothing to work that enables them to put on a pair of sneakers and go to the gym or run out the door for a quick walk or jog. Their style reflects their interest and life choices in surprisingly creative ways.

I find all these women’s “living as art” hugely inspiring and I will keep looking for them wherever I go to learn and spice up my own existence.

What women do you look to for inspiration? Where do you find your daily inspiration and how do you boost your creative living? Do you have any daily habits that foster creativity? Please join the conversation.

Helene HayesHelene Hayes is a knitter and a keen observer of international culture. She writes about her passion for self-expression, creativity and fabulous yarns from all over the world and from the Catskills, where she has a small farm. Originally from Denmark, she has a special love for the traditions of cultures for hand-made quality. Please visit her website, Luxe Knitz.

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