On Friday morning, a group of Charlottesville’s creative minds logged onto a Zoom call. The goal? Drink some coffee and listen to an artist talk about their journey.
This is the general premise of CreativeMornings.The original idea was to unite New York City’s creative minds for a free breakfast one Friday a month. But what started small grew into something enormous. CreativeMornings now has 223 chapters in 67 countries, and boasts more than 11.6 million video views. Each month’s speaker is selected from their chapter based on a global theme.
Charlottesville’s chapter began the day with an unstructured 30-minute chat, where participants get coffee and talk about whatever comes to their minds. Even though the event was over Zoom, participants still found ways to connect with one another and foster conversation.
This month’s theme is “kismet,” a Turkish word that has come to mean “fate and fortune” in common understanding. For CreativeMornings, it means recognizing when good fortune has opened the door for new opportunities, and choosing to seize your fate rather than letting it fly by.
Participants were asked to edit their on-screen name tags to not only include their name and pronouns, but also their answer to the question, “Do you believe in fate?” In addition to this conversation starter, Charlottesville musician and artist Ramona Martinez offered tarot card readings to whoever wanted one, answering questions about next steps in relationships and careers. Despite the virtual setting, the environment felt warm and inviting, and especially welcoming to new participants.
Charlottesville host and freelance photographer Kori Price then started with general announcements about creative opportunities and events in the Charlottesville community, before asking someone to recite CreativeMornings’ manifesto, which perfectly sums up the organization’s goal of fostering community, creativity and expression.
“Everyone is creative,” the manifesto reads. “A creative life requires bravery and action, honesty and hard work. We are here to support you, celebrate with you and encourage you to make the things you love.”
Friday’s speaker was Martinez, whose faith in the divine, both Christian and occult, factors into everything that she makes. She told the story of how her passion for the tin flute led to her re-discovering her faith, and finding a new creative voice.
“As my spiritual life began to blossom, so did my art,” Martinez said.
Martinez’s greatest inspiration is the Virgin Mary, who played a significant role in helping Martinez find her spirituality, and is featured heavily in her work. One of Martinez’s latest paintings, “Our Lady of Anti-Fascism,” illustrates what the iconic Catholic figure means to her.
“I wanted to show that the Holy mother is always on the side of the oppressed and that resistance to fascism is based in a fierce love of all humanity,” Martinez said. “She loves us because she knows no matter what we or others may have to say about it, we're worthy of that kind of love.”
Martinez’s key piece of advice? Find your passion and run with it. She found her inspiration from the Virgin Mary, but encouraged participants to grab ahold of whatever they were intrigued by.
“The passion that we feel for people and things is nothing less than instructions from the divine about your fate, it is the key to your kismet,” Martinez said. “I'm not gonna lie, sometimes it will burn you, but I promise you it's all part of a much bigger plan.”
There was something both comforting and exciting in the way that Martinez told her personal story. Her optimistic outlook on life gave meaning even to its worst aspects. She poignantly explained how every awful experience made her a wiser person, and how the pain she felt unlocked her creative potential.
“I want you to realize that you don't even have to think about fate or kismet or divine plan or God or anything like that to improve your chances of living a life full of meaning,” Martinez said.
In Martinez’s view, passion and obsession are key to finding your place in the world and seizing the opportunities as they come.
This sentiment perfectly embodies the ideology behind CreativeMornings. This organization began with a few passionate people coming together to share their ideas, and grew into a community of creative minds, ready to support each other. Despite how widespread it has become, CreativeMornings still feels like the cozy breakfast conversation it was originally intended to be. Not once throughout the lecture did any participant seem excluded or out of place — you’re treated like an old friend, whether you’re a new participant or a regular attendee.
Those wishing to get involved with CreativeMornings can sign up for the Charlottesville newsletter to be notified about upcoming meetings.