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Abounding Bowl

A prompt to encourage your practice of creativity this week from Riversider and local author Larry Burns.

Do you need a low stress way to include seven minutes of creative contemplation into your week? Consider this your helpful nudge towards a slightly more creative life. If it helps, come back every week for a quick hit of creative contemplation. Each week I’ll share a new nudge. It will include a Thing (T), a Place (P), and a Sense(S) for your focus, a TPS creative nudge.

In our last creative outing, we ventured into space! Actually, we took a close look at what we do with public and personal spaces, and how walls help us understand where we are in the bigger world.  Like me, did you enjoy considering them as not just physical barriers but as canvases for expression and storytelling? Whether you discovered an Easter egg in a mural or made a little magic yourself with a kinetic artscape of shadows and light, walls offer us a backdrop to explore the interplay between space, art, and narrative. 

This week, we shift our focus to an object that embodies both utility and artistry: the bowl. From the ceremonial chalices that hold significance in a sacred ceremony to the everyday cereal bowl that greets us in the morning, bowls are vessels that carry more than just their contents to our eager bellies! 

My family and I are making and consuming plenty of soups and stews to stave of the chilly nights. I find comfort starting my days with a little warmth from a bowl of oatmeal or porridge.  It’s no surprise they’ve nudged their way into my creative space by filling my belly with comforting food while chaos reigns just outside my walls.

Bowls cradle our food, our cherished beliefs, and sometimes, our secrets. Let's delve into the curves and contours of various bowls, using them as a springboard for creative activities that engage our senses and imagination. Please excuse the sophomoric humor of my GPT as I offer you the chance to be “bowled away” by these creative exercises: 

  1. Adore a bowl: Place a single empty bowl in front of you. Reflect and write a flash fiction story or poem from the perspective of the bowl, weaving tales of the meals it's held or the conversations it's silently witnessed.  
  2. Stack a bowl: Gather an assortment of bowls of different sizes and materials. Challenge yourself to stack them into a precarious sculpture, playing with balance and form. 
  3. Trace a bowl: Use a bowl as a stencil to create circular patterns on paper or fabric. Experiment and explore themes of containment and release. This exercise encourages you to think about boundaries and what lies beyond them.
  4. Touch a bowl: Close your eyes and run your fingers over the surface of a bowl, noting its texture, temperature, and form. Can you tell it’s function from it’s feel? Use clay or a similar material to mold a bowl based on your tactile experience, focusing on the sensations rather than the visual outcome. 
  5. Throw a bowl: Create a piece of art that incorporates a bowl and elements that move. This could involve filling the bowl with water and floating flowers or candles in it, or placing it in a location where the wind causes it to spin or rock. 

In their simple utility, I find bowls to be profound symbols of nourishment, community, and artistry. As we engage with these creative exercises, let's appreciate the depth and versatility of this indispensabowl object (that’s me, not my GPT). 

May the act of holding, observing, and transforming bowls inspire us to see the potential for creativity in our cupboards. With you as artist and architect, a bowl is a story, a sculpture, or a song – a reminder that creativity knows no bounds, and inspiration can be found in the most ordinary of vessels.

Note: This column written with the help of ChatGPT Plus and related Plugins.