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A hand holds a small notebook featuring a painting of a landscape up to compare to the real landscape in the background
Holland Gormley shows off one of her paintings against the backdrop that inspired it. Photo credit: Holland Gormley

Celebrating Women’s History Month: Conversations About Creativity, Hope, and Healing, Part 2

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Last week, we published part one of our two-part blog series in honor of Women’s History Month 2022. We are back with part two and more insights from my colleagues at the U.S. Copyright Office about creativity, hope, healing, and more in “Conversations About Creativity, Hope, and Healing, Part 2.”

Please note, the following interviews have been edited for space and clarity.

Holland Gormley, Public Affairs Specialist

How do you express your creativity, and what do you love to make?
I am an artist! My training is in oil painting and photography, but these days I do more watercolor than anything. I do not think of being creative as being limited to one practice or medium, though. Creativity is all about finding new solutions or ways of thinking and seeing. That carries through to nearly everything I do, at least when I am doing it well.

What does it mean for you to be creative or express creativity?
For people who are creative, the practice is not a luxury; it is a necessity. When I am being creative, I feel both at peace and energized. There is no better feeling in the world.

Where do you think creativity intersects with or impacts hope and healing?
Creative thinking and creative practices help us imagine the world we want to make for ourselves. Without creativity, how would we inspire social change, or develop new approaches to scientific development, or tell someone we are falling in love! I believe creativity is at the center of hope and healing.

How do creativity and being creative provide healing or promote hope in your life?
These past couple of years have not been easy. For any of us. When I paint, I feel a sense of calm that has been hard to come by through any other means. That gives me so much energy to devote to other parts of my life, so I can be present and offer support to others.

How does creativity and being creative provide healing or promote hope in your community?
On a practical level, I am committed to bettering my community through my artistic practice. I donate creative services or paintings to charitable causes and fundraisers in my community every year. I would encourage any artist who is able to do this. It feels so good to be able to use my skills to support the fundamental needs of my community.

Who are the women who inspire your creativity?
My mom! She is the best artist I know. From a very young age, she encouraged me to pursue the arts and would even let me use her professional-grade supplies from the time I could hold a pencil.

Over the past two years of the COVID-19 pandemic, how has your understanding of your creativity or creative time evolved?
I think what I have realized during the pandemic is that sometimes being creative is like going to the gym. It can be hard to get motivated, but as soon as I get into the swing of things, it is hard to stop, and I always, always, feel better afterward. In that sense, maybe being creative is also a workout for your mind.

How does copyright help and support women creators?
As creators, our work is our greatest asset. Copyright can help protect your work in certain situations and give you some incredible exclusive rights, subject to certain limitations and exclusions, like the right to display and reproduce your work. I believe copyright is fundamental to the creative ecosystem.

What do you want fellow women creators to know about copyright?
I would want woman creators to know that, like with just about everything in life, the only dumb questions are the ones you are too afraid to ask. The help team at the Copyright Office is truly amazing, and many of them are creative too! If this blog has sparked some questions, please contact our Public Information Office!

Andrea Howard, Copyright Specialist

What does it mean for you to be creative or express creativity?
I express creativity through words. I have been blogging for a decade and often share my poems with others online. My love for reading, writing, and journaling led to starting a small business where I create handmade journals.

To me, expressing creativity is a physical manifestation of the things that fill my heart and make me light up on the inside.

How can creativity and creative works provide healing or promote hope within our society?
Creativity has always been an outlet for healing. When people share their creativity, it inspires hope. Reading other people’s stories or seeing artwork that conveys things that I could not put into words has always been a soothing balm for me while working through my own healing.

When I started consistently journaling in 2018, it was one of the roughest patches in my life. Incorporating that practice helped me to grow in my ability to express and heal myself. I started to share how this creative outlet helped me with those in my life and saw my friends and family members take up journaling as well.

Since the pandemic began, I have seen people come together virtually to promote healing through writing and other forms of creativity. For the first time, so many people were forced to slow down and really reflect on their lives. We all experienced trauma over the last two years, and the need to heal and be there for each other has been more present than ever before.

Who are the women who inspire your creativity?
My sister is probably one of my biggest inspirations when it comes to my creativity. She is also a writer and a poet. I have seen her perform all over the country, release a spoken word album, and work on various books that she plans to release. We are very close, so her passion has always helped keep my flame burning too.

Is there a creative work someone else put into the world that provides healing, hope, or inspiration to you?
During the pandemic, I read After the Rain: Gentle Reminders for Healing, Courage, and Self-Love by Alexandra Elle. This book helped me so much and inspired me to continue to focus on my healing. In my opinion, it was a beautifully written, vulnerable, and memorable work.

How has the COVID-19 pandemic changed your relationship with being creative?
In the past, I placed a lot of value on people, including myself, sharing their creative works with “the world.” Over the last two years, I realized that sometimes it is okay to create and sit with it. As someone who has always had something going on, having to sit still made me realize that it is okay to have slower seasons where you are creating privately, healing yourself. There are other times when you will feel that your creative pursuits should be shared with the world to inspire and bring hope. Both experiences with your creativity are valid.

Two women sit on a teal couch. One is holding an electric guitar. The other is writing in a notebook, and in front of her is a snare drum.
Engage your creativity with friends and colleagues. Photo credit: Shutterstock

Nicole Lamberson, Writer-Editor

How do you express your creativity, and what do you love to make?
I express my creativity through both ends of the copyright spectrum, as a creator and as a user of copyright-protected works.

As a creator, I enjoy writing. A few years ago, I co-founded a travel-related blog, and though we are on hiatus, I am looking forward to getting back to writing content on a subject about which I am passionate. I have also been writing a novel, have recently taken up painting, and enjoy photography.

As a user, I express my creativity on the stage through the performance of copyright-protected works. I have been involved in community theater since I was five. I have acted in more than twenty-five productions, directed two plays, and taken numerous acting and singing classes.

What does it mean for you to be creative or express creativity?
I am a shy person, and I have been that way ever since I was little. By expressing my creativity, I am expressing myself. Writing provides a way of sharing who I am—my thoughts, feelings, and beliefs. Photography and painting are ways to share what I find beautiful, interesting, and thought-provoking. Being in the theater—whether as an actor, director, student, or even just an observer—is when I am most comfortable and feel most understood. Being creative and having creative outlets are essential for being me.

Where do you think creativity intersects with or impacts hope and healing?
I believe engaging your creativity or experiencing the creativity of others is crucial in maintaining or healing one’s mental and physical health. Creative works lift us up. A favorite song can bring you out of a bad mood; a favorite movie or TV show can help you move on from a bad day; a good book can transport you away from a difficult situation for a while. In the same way, being creative—writing down your thoughts on a page, expressing your mood by painting a picture, photographing and documenting what is happening around you—aids in healing and helps in processing stress, anger, sadness, or any emotion that is having a negative effect on your wellbeing.

How do creativity and being creative provide healing or promote hope in your life?
I get so much healing and hope through engaging my creativity and surrounding myself with the creativity of others. Creative works provide inspiration and motivation for my own works; they help me see the world in new or different ways; they encourage me to reevaluate my life and make changes for the better. When I do not engage my creativity for a while, I notice the negative impact. I am not as happy or hopeful, and I feel tired and unmotivated. I have to have creativity in my life.

How can creativity and creative works provide healing or promote hope within our society?
You only need to look at the past couple of years to see how creativity promotes healing and hope for our society. When the pandemic started, many of us were stuck at home for longer than we could have imagined, and most of us turned to our creativity and creative works to help us cope and thrive. We revived old hobbies or found new activities. We turned to TV shows, movies, social media, and books to pass the time and find joy. Creativity helped many of us get through a very trying time and rediscover ourselves. I believe creators help us relate to each other, feel represented, and imagine a better world. Through creativity, society often finds hope and comfort.

Who are the women who inspire your creativity?
My mom is my biggest inspiration in all things, especially in my creativity. I feel that inspiration in her continued encouragement of my creative pursuits. She was the one who proposed I audition for The Wizard of Oz at our local theater when I was five and the one who took me to auditions, rehearsals, and performances for years after—and even got involved behind the scenes. For as long as I can remember, she has been a creative force herself. I grew up with her designing wooden crafts that she would then sell at craft fairs. She also draws and paints and is so creative in other ways. I grew up surrounded by her creativity, and I learned how important it is to make time for it.

What do you want fellow women creators to know about copyright?
I want all creators to know that copyright law can serve a vital purpose in their lives and in protecting their works. As such, I think becoming familiar with the basics of copyright law is important. The Copyright Office has an entire team dedicated to answering the public’s questions whether they prefer to call, email, or even send a letter through the mail!

Comments (2)

  1. Brava! What a fine series this is. And what a creative idea it was to undertake it!

    Thank you.

  2. Thank you for giving me an Inspiring insight into creativity, hope, and healing in women’s history.

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