Jun 06, 2023
For most of my life, I have wandered the winding roads of creative pursuits, my passions leading me down solitary paths. It often felt like a solitary journey, where the fruits of my imagination were born in the silence of my own company. I mostly loved that. But there were times when I questioned if I truly belonged, if there was a place for me that could understand and embrace this part of me.
Then, something remarkable happened. A decade ago, we opened a place called Cork & Chroma, which instantly became a meeting place of individuals united by their shared quest for fun times and expression through creativity. Within the studio walls, I found more than just a space to paint and create; I found lasting friendships, a newfound sense of confidence, and a surge of creative energy that has propelled me forward in life. Ironically, in creating a place for others to express themselves, I had accidentally made the creative community I had always craved. A place where me and my creativity belonged!
Late last year I had the opportunity to take a trip back to my home country after being away for a long time. It was the first time I had returned to the USA since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, and it reminded me of the importance of feeling connected to your roots and belonging somewhere. Even though I’ve been living abroad for over a decade, being surrounded by the familiar sights, sounds, and smells of home was a comforting and grounding experience that I had greatly missed.
Unfortunately (but not entirely unexpected), we ended up getting sick with COVID-19 while we were overseas. My parents graciously let us stay at their place for a week while we recovered, and while wandering around their house, I came across old photos from my childhood that I hadn’t looked at in years, and some that I had never even seen before. There was a photo of me holding up a new set of paints as a toddler, a snap of me displaying a splatter painting at a community fair, a humble still life drawing proudly framed and hung on my parent’s wall, and even a caricature we must have gotten during a family trip to Disney World. The artist had drawn my caricature painting at an easel, and it was really special to see and hold these tangible memories in my hands and remember, “This is a big part of who I am and what my purpose is now, and it’s actually always been a big part of me.”
During my trip back to Illinois, I was reconnected with many people from my past. I spent time with my best friend at her new home, where our kids played and crafted together under the Christmas tree. I had a sleepover with my university flatmate, where we talked and ate pizza and drank wine in the hotel bathroom while our babies slept. I also celebrated my mother-in-law’s 70th birthday at a big party with our entire family in attendance. I was even able to see my 98-year-old grandfather (who passed away a few weeks after I saw him), and was able to sit at his feet and tell him how much he meant to me and how grateful I was to have him as a grandfather. These connections grounded me and transformed me.
Because belonging isn’t just about returning to a physical place or holding onto physical memories. It’s also about feeling like you fit in with a group of people or feeling like you have a purpose or role in the world. It’s a sense that we all crave, but it can be difficult to find at times. What happens when we don’t feel like we belong? When we are disconnected from the people and places that are supposed to be a part of our identity? For me, it was a slow process of disconnection that went mostly unnoticed until I was able to reconnect and realize how dehydrated my roots had become over time.
Living abroad and away from my roots is a big part of why I’ve focused on knowing what it means to belong to myself – and one way I do this is through self-expression, which can take many forms, whether it’s through painting, writing, music, or having honest conversations with those around me. By expressing myself, I can better understand myself and my place in the world, and also connect with others. By taking the time to understand and express who I am, I find a sense of belonging rooted in my authentic self. And when I connect with myself in a true way, I can connect with others in a true way and the spark of creative community is possible.
One of the things I loved most when we first opened Cork & Chroma is that I had created a place of belonging, where for three hours each night, I was with a group of people with a common interest, experience, and purpose. Cork & Chroma helped me to make friends, and to belong in a city and country where I didn’t always feel a sense of belonging. It gave me creative community.
At Cork & Chroma, we understand that making space for creativity can be a challenge in today’s busy and distracting world. We must intentionally carve out time, places, and experiences to nurture this sense of belonging and connection. That’s why I am so excited for The Club at Cork & Chroma, a creative studio membership program, designed to help you foster consistency in your creative output and consistency in a creative community. And, of course, for the FUN of it all. 🙂
This membership program, the first of its kind, includes one session per month (up to $69 value) and a 15% discount on the C&C Shop. Plus, VIP members will also receive a welcome pack with your very own Cork & Chroma apron and Painter’s Affirmation enamel badge to adorn your apron upon joining.
Whether you’re an experienced artist or a beginner, we invite you to join us at Cork & Chroma and discover the transformative power of creativity. Together, we make a sense of belonging and connection that inspires us to new heights of self-knowledge and artistic expression.
Creativity. Community. Connection. Consistency. Self Care.
That last one didn’t start with a C but that’s okay it still belongs here. And so do you!
What are you waiting for? It’s time to Join the Club!