Thursday, 5 July 2012

Could Shopping Malls be a Creativity Substitute?

I tried to go shopping today, but I wasn't terribly successful. I need a winter coat.

I hate shopping malls. Badly designed ones, mediocre ones, even beautiful ones I dislike -though I can't think of any beautiful ones at the moment. Maybe where we live the malls are especially bad? Very possible. But the ones in Sydney that I have been to, and Brisbane, and Seattle, I hate them all. Upsetting. I get upset in shopping malls. And I get mad.

I worry about the people in them. Many many years ago, soon after arriving in Australia I was working in a shopping mall. The shop was a few counters making up a little island in the walk through. We monogrammed robes and towels. I got a tic above my eye. It was so weird, I could feel it jerk. I don't know if anyone else could see it, no one ever said anything. I was 26 and it hasn't happened since that time. I think it was the stress of being there.
( a small watercolour of mine called "at the mall")

I worry more about the people walking around than the ones working there. The fact that most shopping malls are completely closed off freaks me out. We are walking around in a huge closed off place full of internal shops. No plants, no earth, no sky, often no natural light. I used to have dreams where I could fly and I would go up and up and then bump up against a ceiling like one in a shopping mall. It was very disturbing. I wanted to keep going up and up but I couldn't. I felt trapped.

But the worst thing is all the stuff. Shops and shops full of racks and racks of stuff. And we are walking around like rats in a maze looking at all this stuff to buy it. What do they do with all the stuff we don't buy? What do we do with all the stuff we do buy? Why aren't we having picnics or bike riding or making things instead of our entertainment being buying stuff. This can't be good for us.

And what is it doing to the natural environment? I don't need to get started on that! When I think of what it takes to make all that stuff and get rid of it all, I get so mad. Not at anyone, because I wouldn't know who to blame. And I don't feel blameless, it isn't that. But I would like to do something about it.

I think that is one of the reasons that I teach art journaling. I know that the more I make things the less I care about buying and owning stuff. It isn't that I can or even would want to make everything I need, it is something more mysterious than that. Something about being creative that is nourishing and I just don't feel the same need for new stuff.

I just want people to be doing something that will really nourish them. I think shopping as entertainment is kind of like imitation creativity. It is like eating fast fake-food when what you really need is a good nourishing home made meal.

19 comments:

Laura Farrow said...

Yes! I get panic attacks after about 20min of mall shopping, so I just don't do it. There is one mall that's like an small 'artsy' mall. Galleries and fancy food shops and a cool Indian store. I can somehow handle that one. xo

Caterina Giglio said...

I completely understand your feelings about malls. I used to be a trainer for a large department store chain and I began to feel claustrophobic at work, the only thing that kept me sane was to bring running shoes to wear and walk the mall fast at lunch break. I much prefer the new strip centers, with trees and planter boxes.. and yes, fresh air!
your watercolor is wonderful...

lilasvb said...

i just avoid malls as much as i can. thanks for inspire us
since i took your class one i am still art journaling , in at least 2 ways, one with art journal and one with sugarcanne pictures

Mary said...

Well put! I've often said that Hell for me would be to spend all eternity in the Mall of America. (Went once with my family. Never again!) Mary

Zom said...

Laura, an artsy mall! I haven't been to one of those.

Caterina, I haven't heard of strip centres. They aren't enclosed?

Valery, glad it is still going well for you.

Mary, the Mall of America, sounds scary.

Dorispinto1001 said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

No I definitely don’t think malls are a creativity substitute. But there are two sides to every story. The mall probably provides employment to hundreds if not thousands of people. It may not be where they want to be but that employment allows those people to keep a roof over their heads and food on the table. It probably also allows them to be able to afford to pay you to take your journaling class. So I’m sure all those people are very grateful when others come shopping at the mall because it allows them to have a job. According to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, before we can achieve self actualization and pursue creativity fulfillment we have to have the first four elements of shelter, safety, belonging, and self-esteem. If people don’t have those things they certainly aren’t going to worry about making stuff.

Zom said...

I appreciate your viewpoint Anonymous. But... there were jobs before malls. And people made a living before our culture was worshipping shopping.

I don't think we need those four elements as a prerequisite to be creative. I have seen and experienced creativity to generate both belonging and self-esteem. And to comfort where they are missing.

Sherrie Spangler said...

Yes! I avoid malls at all costs. And I hate going into big grocery stores for the same reasons. They all make me want to flee, empty-handed, to the big outdoors.

susan christensen said...

A strange and powerful narrative painting, Zom. The older I get, the less interested I am in consuming clothes, shoes, dishes, electronics, and the rest of the commodities sold in malls. A favorite author of mine, William Gibson, set part of one of his novels in a 'dead' mall. I guess what I object to the most is the homogeneity of experience provided in malls. Oh, and the devastation left on the landscape when one dies, as you see in some parts of the US now.

Zom said...

Sherrie you have described it. I do flee into the rainforest where I live.

That is interesting Sus. I haven't seen the dead malls, I would like to. I have a fascination for the decay of our man-made environments.

Alison Mackay said...

Funny you should mention this, I don't think I've bought any clothes since I started art journaling (except those fab colourful tights)and I'm just not interested in going to shopping malls anymore! Your point is proved!

Lucy Chen said...

I'm with you here, Zom. I hate shopping malls, too. I even hate shopping streets, those that have natural lights. I just hate shopping. Racks and racks of stuff suffocate me! I remember a friend of mine retold the story to my husband when she asked me to go shopping with her to spend her Myer gift cards after work one day. She said we were chatting alright, but the minute we walked into Myer, my face turned pale and i stopped talking.
So when I need things, I shop online. And I don't have much cloth at all.

Zom said...

That is a great story Lucy.

Marianne said...

I also have a mall-phobia. Nice to know I'm not alone.
:)

Jeanie Thorn said...

I guess I’ve been on both sides of the fence. As a child I remember going shopping with my Mom. We lived just outside of Boston and going shopping meant taking the train downtown to the department stores (there were no malls then) and it was very exciting plus it meant spending time with my Mom. I felt special and very grown up. Years later as a teenager I would go to the mall with my girlfriends but it was more about connecting with them than it was about shopping although I enjoyed both. I now happen to live in a very fashion conscious area (near Scottsdale, AZ) and shopping is what most women do here so I’m not surprised by the amount of conspicuous consumption. I’m not saying I agree with it or that it's good, it’s just the way it is.

To answer your blog title “Could Shopping Malls be a Creativity Substitute? I don’t think it’s the shopping “mall” that’s the creative substitute but maybe it’s the act of shopping. The clothes we chose to wear say a lot about who we are and can communicate many things about our personalities. Many people don’t know how to sew and don’t care for thrifting or refashioning and so they chose to purchase new what they wear and they derive satisfaction from it. Unfortunately malls have taken the place of all the smaller more pleasant places to shop.

I can appreciate it when you say that you “just want people to be doing something that will really nourish them”. I felt the same way until not too long ago I suggested to a friend that she ought to have a creative hobby and she became hurt and said that she was happy for me that I loved to make art but that she was not creative, had no desire to be creative and that she felt I judged her for that. It was an awakening for me and I realized that we’re not all alike and I had to learn to respect those differences. So while shopping has become less important to me as I’ve aged (that has been my evolution), I no longer expect others to have the same experience. We all have our ways of making ourselves feel good and I shouldn't decide for others what that is or should be. I guess I wouldn’t want someone to look at my art making as something I should stop doing just because they couldn’t appreciate it.

Natasha said...

Amen.

I feel so suffocated when I go to the mall. We avoid it at all costs, and only go there if we really need something and then it is straight out.

Probably explains why my clothes are old and raggy as well. But good for painting and having adventures.

My sister and her family go the mall every weekend and sometimes seem to hang out there for hours. The idea of that makes me feel like shopping on Christmas eve. I can't fathom the attraction, but she can't understand the joy creating brings me either.

malls in philippines said...

I agree to Natasha its probably the one reason why my clothes getting raggy too.

lou

Louise said...

Nice written very well said, you can also visit alabang town center mall
good place for shopping too.