Quarantine at Home: Creative Living

Written by Jenny Lai:

Everyone has been finding their own way to get by day-to-day. It’s a time when we find ourselves with future plans cancelled, where all distractions are lifted and still seemingly everywhere at the same time.

Because every day can feel frustratingly the same, I try to do everything I can to make them different. Finding ways to stay creative has been a big part of this. I’ve found it helpful to search for creativity in all corners (of my apartment), as well as connecting through social media and the internet to feed off a collective creativity.

Here are a few things keeping me creatively afloat these days!

Everyone seems to be baking, and no wonder why - most ingredients are already in your pantry AND it fills your place with a wonderful smell! I’ve certainly fallen into that and definitely recommend banana walnut bread (add chocolate chips!) and lemon bars


So many artists, performers, and art institutions have come forward with ways to keep bringing their expertise to everyone digitally and it’s been fascinating for me to engage in these new ways. I dove into the online offerings of museums like the MET Museum, who offer art books, a database of their entire collection, and really wonderful video content. Check out my blog post on that hereInstead of their usual Lower East Side art exhibitions, Special Special is curating digital art for your inboxes each week, sign up for those here 

A few weeks back, the puppet company, Great Small Works, live-streamed two evenings of toy theatre performances from over 40 artists around the world, which was simply delightful. Off-broadway arts theater HERE streams shows from their archive every Wednesday evening.

Several of my dancer and musician friends are offering private and group classes which is an incredible opportunity to have a private lesson with some incredibly talented professionals AND not leave your house. There are Instagram premieres of top classical musicians performing new music compositions. I also spend many evenings dancing by myself to a “personal” DJ session from D-Nice, Samm Henshaw, or Janelle Monae.

Wherever your interest lies, I promise you it’s coming alive online in one way or another.

I started a remote collaboration with photographer Andy Boyle, who has been working on fantastic augmented reality and motion collages. Together we are thinking of what it means to have a fashion shoot remotely and how we can use the actual restraints of this process to create something unexpected. I started with creating a self-directed, self-modeled, self-shot photoshoot in my studio – the images of which will become raw materials for his collages. We are also considering adding another element of a dancer or model.

Rests and breaks are crucial. Taking socially distanced walks has been life-saving for me. Spring has sprung marvelously this last month, and it’s been particularly joyful to watch the weeping willows become full, the magnolias blossom, and the fresh leaves burst out of their buds. It’s really been bringing a smile to my faces to see all the parents and kids spending quality time together in the park.

I’ve been discovering the wonders of online tutorials and classes (thank you Linkedin Learning!) and trying to make some progress memorizing Chinese hanzi – skills that I’ve put off learning that I suddenly now have the time and energy for.  

Playing music is a very calming and focused experience for me, so I’ve been spending more time playing viola and piano and even started a fun chamber project with my siblings from two different cities. Sometimes, I practice my watercolor painting, and I finally even got started on that very hefty book on Robert Moses. It’s too heavy for me to even hold up!

It’s also been wonderful to have long conversations with old friends over video.

In a way, there is so much to do, and so much being offered online, that it can actually be overwhelming. It’s a real thing – having too much unstructured time can actually make you less able to get anything done. Being a bit of an old-school-handwritten-planner kind of person, I’ve found it helpful to find three categories to focus on and ration it out throughout the week, one item per day. I also find that subdividing the day up, sticking to as normal of a schedule as you can, and getting dressed up like you’re going outside, really helps. Just because you're stuck indoors, doesn’t mean your fashion has to be boring:


Everyone is finding their own way to take care of themselves during this time. I personally feel that it’s a time to lean into anything that makes you feel healthy, happy, and curious. I hope that you are all finding some ways to stay creative and inspired, and I'm really looking forward to seeing you all soon! If there is any way I can help, please don't hesitate to reach out.




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