Patsey's Dolls: Why We Must Create
Why we must create.
The one scene that I keep going back to again and again from 12 Years a Slave is where we see Patsey crafting her corn husk dolls.
This scene struck me because it bores down to the essence of who we are as women, creators.
Our need to create, to connect, and to release our spirit is greater than any injustice, pain, or sorrow we have or will ever endure.
We create to be free.
Our creations are what frees us. When discussing Patsey and the corn husk dolls, Lupita Nyong’o stated that, "In playing her, I learned that you don't have to live a day free to know what freedom is." (Interview, 11/20/2013)
For that period of time, Patsey was free and present in that freedom. In those moments she was not enslaved, nor someone’s mule or sexual satisfaction.
I imagine she also created freedom for others by giving the dolls to the girls on the plantation, teaching others to make the dolls, or inspiring them to create something of their own.
We must create our art for the sake of freedom.
We create to save ourselves.
Our creations are what save us.
They save us from insanity and nothingness.
They nourish us and keep us whole.
They have kept us alive and it is what allows us thrive against all odds.
To create is to be courageous. To fly in the face of doubt.
To dare to be the greatest thing you can be, yourself.
We create to feel.
When we are creating, a light opens up inside and makes our pearly, peachy, cafe con leche, golden, cacao and obsidian skins radiate.
The rhythm in our hips and steps becomes hypnotic.
Our voices drift like a sweet summer breeze and boom like the night thunder.
Divine gifts are produced from our hearts, minds, tongues, hands and wombs.
Dreams become songs and paintings.
Feelings grow into flowerbeds and quilts.
These creations flow out like blood, sweat and tears, freely, but not without sacrifice.
We are artists.
We are artists in every sense of the word.
Whether we are braiding hair, birthing babies, organizing, growing a garden, painting our bodies, resisting, or “making a dollar outta 15 cents”, we manage to infuse our souls.
Each of us has our own corn husk doll waiting to be birthed from the part of us that cannot be adulterated.
We say to the world, “because I have created this, you cannot deny my existence.” Though, they will try.
It’s reminder that we are (and were) here and not to forget us.
Creating is the art of being.
This is why we must create.