Where it’s at

Flying on the wings of creativity

Mon, 12/25/2023 - 11:45am

    Morgan Mitchell’s Creative Flow Circles got their start while she and husband Andrei Bazaiac were living in Portland. Morgan was working at an ad agency and observed how mentally drained her creative counterparts were. A space where her co-workers could go to play, rest and recharge to create another day was what they needed. She found that space at a nearby wellness center.

    Morgan and Andrei are back on the peninsula, living in Boothbay where she continues to hold the Creative Flow Circles at St. Columba’s Episcopal Church in Boothbay Harbor on a monthly basis through March.

    I attended the Dec. 9 Circle and it was quite liberating to put brush to easel and watch the colors meet the canvas mostly in a very abstract manner. Especially for me because I am not an artist. I am a writer – I paint with words. Don’t get me wrong: I love art, I greatly admire those who possess that gift, I’m really in awe of them, actually. Art classes were never something I looked forward to: There wasn’t much I did that received any encouraging comments, either – you kinda get the message, ya know? Because it was an elective in high school, I didn’t have to suffer through four more years of feeling inadequate. There was theater and writing for the school newspaper! But, I digress! The cool thing about Morgan’s Circle was: None of that matters. What matters is that you allow yourself to relax and express yourself with colors, creating multiple paintings with everyone in the class. Now that was an art experience I could dig.

    Prior to our arrival, Morgan sets up easels (I think there were seven and she will have as many as 10-12 in a group) with paper, two paint colors, some torn pieces of past Circle sessions, a sketch pencil, two crayons, a brush, and water. You move clockwise from easel to easel while listening to music – but not talking (which really helps with the experience). You move to the next easels when a new song begins, everyone adding to each piece.

    Before we started creating, we sat in a circle, eyes closed, as Morgan led us in a body scan noting and encouraging us to relax areas of tension. This was followed by grounding, then we visualized white light entering our body from our feet that moved slowly upward until the light traveled through the top of our heads. While imagining it growing in brightness there was a feeling of comfort, relaxation, and peace. Afterward we stretched, slowly moving from one space into another, if you will (if you meditate, you totally get this), and then talked about the experience and each of the six or seven (I think it was) paintings. I’ve included a few of them with this column online.

    It’s not mine, it’s ours, explained Morgan: “There’s no attachment to the outcome (paintings) this way. And, at the end, each collage is torn up to be used at the next Creative Flow Circle. Everything is a collaboration; when we are creative we collaborate with our ancestors, the greater energies, and with each other.”

    And St. Columba’s is absolutely perfect for these Circles. It’s not only a large, open space, it’s a beautiful one with high ceilings that invite you to allow yourself to be lifted skyward. Everyone should try it.

    Another offering at the Old Firehouse are Rest Stops because “artists need the freedom to daydream.” Monthly people gather there to read, to draw, to meditate, or visit quietly.

    Now, some of you are saying, yeah, but what about the wings?! I’m getting to that – remember I’m more like Michener than Hemingway ...

    At the same time Morgan was leading the flow circles in Portland her art had taken shape on T-shirt canvases on which she painted seals, lobsters, mackerels, and oyster shells. A portion of each sale was donated to the Wabanaki people.

    “I was beginning to be nudged by this wing image in an affable way. I didn’t really know why it was pulling me so, but I started making wings and prayer shawls for people that were grieving loved ones, people who were healing: in treatment for an illness, in recovery from substance abuse, or that were reinventing themselves,” she shared.

    But it wasn’t until the day she woke from a nap thinking she had to make wings that this image took flight. “I hung a piece of paper on a kitchen wall and started sketching these wings and thinking about how drawn I was to this image. I had just lost a friend, a very creative, brilliant person. I was making wings in honor of him and his loved ones. I found a real connectivity of worlds through this image of wings.”

    We talked about the symbolism of wings, her signature design, to be sure. Wings are the symbol of one’s spirit and soul; freedom, flight, escape, transcendence, peace, spirituality, spiritual ascension, higher consciousness, enlightenment, heaven, and yes, angels.

    Morgan’s studio/shop/gallery is in the downstairs of the Old Firehouse building in Boothbay Center. Her dad, renowned photographer, storyteller and calendar maker, was based out of there for many a year, and you will still find his framed photography adorning the walls (and, yes, they are for sale). In the studio space there Morgan sketches, then paints her wings on a variety of canvases beyond organic T-shirts: leather, canvas, denim and cotton. She always has a variety of clothing items on hand, that friends have given her and others she’s found at a Goodwill or other thrift store; but sometimes a client will bring a specific garment to her that belonged to someone near and dear on which they wish to have Morgan’s wings gracing the back of.

    When she meets with potential clients she takes copious notes about what they want or need the garment they have brought or select from the collection Morgan has in studio to be charged with. Charging a garment is not as, what’s that expression? Oh, yeah, “woo-woo.” It is about intention. Focus. Channeling. Before she begins working on a new piece, she sits with the garment thinking about what the client told her about the loved one and begins to charge the cloth with the energy the client needs or requested – sometimes both.

    Here’s what you need to understand: Morgan has degrees in anthropology and sociology, both of which have influenced the lens through which she experiences the world. “From an anthropological standpoint, I started thinking about garments and the vibration of the art and the vibration of the material and how powerful it is. Here’s the idea: Not everyone has the space to hang a canvas, but everyone wears clothes; there’s a sense of comfort and home in garments, including reclaimed garments. Art has been worn for thousands of years. The story the colors told was part of the journey.”

    Personally, she found wearing garments calibrated for her own healing (Morgan was diagnosed with a rather debilitating form of arthritis years ago) were powerful tools.

    “So, the intersection again comes back to creating and creativity as a technology connecting with a healing current that’s bigger than self; a vehicle for intention,” she said. “My products, practices, and partnerships remind us that we all have wings.”

    She vividly recalls the large piece of Egyptian linen that became the wing-adorned shroud for a dear friend’s mother in Poland. The fabric had been given to Morgan’s mom, Susan Endicott, by Dominic Garvey, a beloved friend of their family. “I spent a lot of time with it spread out on the floor, just sitting with it thinking of my friend and their mom. I experienced my highest joy, moment of flow creating it.”

    Morgan is, without a doubt, a creatress committed to the creative soul and the condition within which creating is possible – not just for herself but for all.

    “Tapping into our own creativity is essential for the human spirit to thrive,” she said. “My work is rooted in the central belief that vitality is creative and creativity is vital. I meet people all of the time who say they are not creative, but they are. We are.”

    And that includes you there reading this column (and thanks for doing so). Morgan’s next Creative Flow Circle is on Saturday, Jan. 13 from 10 to 11:30 a.m. Not sure about the next Rest Stop. Check out her website for more details and information about this fascinating individual in our midst: www.morganmitchell.co/ And no, there isn’t an “m” missing from that web address!

    Regular hours at Morgan’s studio/gallery in the Old Firehouse on Route 27, across from Boothbay Region Surveyors, are Wednesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The gallery will be closed Dec. 24 – 31.