Well, I thought I would be posting today about the Boston Public Library. In my opinion, public libraries are the best thing about America – they are egalitarian, they encourage intellectual curiosity on a budget, they are the perfect institution for a democracy- it’s clear to me that “huddled masses yearning to breathe free” need a public library. I spend a lot of time in libraries; I take the library system into consideration whenever I look at a community and think about whether it would be a great place to live. Libraries are a big part of my life, and the Boston Public Library is gorgeous.
Golden marble everywhere, big lion statues in the stairwell, painted murals twenty feet high, absolutely awe-inspiring. My husband and I visited it last week, during Boston’s mid-winter 60-degree weather (67 degrees in February? In Boston? Impossible!!) when we flew out from Seattle to visit our daughter and her family. I knew posting about the library would be perfect – our readers share my love of books and the buildings they are housed in. So, a post about the library….But then we went to Salem and visited the Peabody Essex Museum and its featured exhibition, The World of Wearable Art.
There was no way not to post about it.
When I walked through it, I could just hear a voice in my head saying, “This is what happens when you think outside the box. This is what creativity is all about.” The wearable pieces on exhibit were all submitted as part of a world-wide competition, open to both professionals and amateurs.
My daughter asked us to choose one we would walk down the streets of Salem, Massachusetts, in. My grandson liked the one you see (above) and took a photo of it (below):
My husband liked the one made of wood (below) which was created for the competition by a carpenter. Not that my husband would walk down the streets of Salem in it!
And my daughter chose the one you can see just behind it, made of wool flannel and silk. Up close, you can almost feel the heat of it because it seems to be on fire. Here’s a better shot of it:
We all agreed that this lobster oufit was spectacular….
…and that the one below, made entirely of leather, was unnerving – not sure why. Imagine the lobster or the horse walking toward you down the sidewalk.
This one, also on the scary-beautiful spectrum, felt melancholy to me, as if it were moaning:
The dress pictured below was my favorite, probably because in the back of it (as part of the bustle) it had a “curiosity cabinet” of strange items on display in glass jars.
Designer Fifi Colston of New Zealand submitted it to the competition and titled it “Lady Curiosity.” You can read more about Colston’s work here.
One last favorite, part of the bras-only competition, was this one:
The iguana is wrapped behind the wearer’s neck; under the animal’s clawed hands are the bra cups.
So I guess the tie-in with writing is this: It never hurts to think outside the box, push yourself, come up with something completely new. Put aside the traditional. Go for the innovative. Go for the jaw-dropping. Understand that being a carpenter can involve building a dress. Combine words, ideas and genres the way people in this competition combined textures and materials – a wooden dress, a horse’s head, a jar-filled bustle. Think flames, fables, lobsters, iguanas. Don’t be afraid to be different. When you write, be Lady (or Lord) Curiosity.