By Mitch Bodager
It’s no secret that COVID-19 has left its mark on every aspect of day-to-day life. Naturally, most view the pandemic in a negative light. Yet, one positive thing that has come out of the past year is a rise in space for creativity to run wild.
“For me, COVID-19 has provided an abundance of time,” Emelia Kublin, resident director of Woolman, Whittier and Fox Halls, said. “When you’re in quarantine, you think, ‘oh man, I guess I’ll pull out the old sketchbook,’ or, ‘I’ll revisit the podcast that I haven’t listened to in a while,’ or, ‘I could check out this new show on Netflix.’ Time allows us to explore new things and find new hobbies, forcing us to be creative.”
This is a unique time to see creativity in new ways on campus. For example, Micah Czirr, resident director of Haviland Hall, recently began hosting students to take part in Dungeons and Dragons sessions.
“One of the great aspects of [Dungeons and Dragons] is that it requires a lot of on-the-spot thinking and reacting, so it’s a very good outlet for strengthening one’s imagination and creative liberty,” Czirr said. “The game was [created] by a group of mega-nerds that wanted to play a fantasy adventure game together, but they didn’t want it to be a regular board game where everything is really rigid and you follow the same pattern every time. Dungeons and Dragons is wide open to your imagination, allowing for creativity in a more unconventional sense.”
Haviland Hall is not the only dorm here on campus offering a unique space for creativity. The resident assistants of Woolman, Whittier and Fox Halls, along with their Resident Director Kublin, recently renovated a few rooms in their building. One of the rooms is designated for art therapy.
“We painted and rearranged furniture up there, and we’re adding some art supplies for people to come, reflect and create things,” Kublin said. “In our building, everyone has the freedom to be who they are. They’re accepted here. We might look like a quirky bunch, but that’s the beauty of our building.
“A culture has been created in [Woolman, Whittier and Fox Halls] where you can be the weird one, the normal one, the artistic one or the quiet one,” Kublin said. “There’s freedom to be yourself, and in that freedom, it builds space where you can naturally grab onto creativity. I love that [Woolman, Whittier and Fox Halls are] known for being a little quirky, and I find great joy in seeing that people love living here.”
Kublin is passionate about building a space for creativity on campus and is unafraid to rally her staff of resident assistants toward her cause.
“This is my life message—teaching creativity,” Kublin said.
“In Scripture, it says that we are made in the image of God,” Kublin said. “The very first thing that the Lord wanted us to know is that he’s a creator…So, if we’re made in [His] image, [we need to know that] creativity is clearly important to him and who He is.
“I think that’s it: any moment in creativity is when you can do something that hasn’t been seen before,” Kublin said. “Whether that be a math equation, problem-solving in relationships or communication; it’s having that freedom to forgo expectations.”
Staff are not the only ones building space for creativity. Resident assistants are hosting events this semester to offer creative outlets for students on campus. Everything from painting parties to pottery nights to playing “Just Dance” has been scheduled.
Max Maline, sophomore exercise science major and resident assistant, has been focusing on keeping creativity alive in his own life.
“Creative moments often come in spurts for me,” Maline said. “It just comes with a little nudge and I roll with it.
“Getting to put my pencil to the paper or my brush to the canvas brings a sense of calmness,” Maline said. “It is very much something I enjoy because I get to see my own creation unfold before my eyes.”
Kublin, Czirr, and Maline are proof that creativity is not limited; all three have different outlets and ways for exercising creativity in their own lives. COVID-19 has opened the door for new opportunities to get creative, and creativity is certainly alive at Malone this semester.