Earworm by Author

The Value of Color

Art’s Real Worth as a Meta Collectivist Perspective


I have always loved color. With no other perspective than my own, I’ve no idea, for example, how many people in this world would be out-of-their-minds happy to sit down with a Pantone color book for two hours, sipping coffee as sunshine streams through a picture window bouncing light onto each page.

That’s literally where I was a year ago at my cousin’s house in Indiana. Kelly O’Dell Stanley is an artist, as was her father, my uncle. As I remember, she was at church that morning, and so was I.

Whether this particular two-hour communion with color in her dining room led me to pick up my first brush and buy a small watercolor kit after Covid-19 hit, I don’t know. It doesn’t matter.

What seems to matter is that I’d been telling myself a lie. That I was no good at art. That I could write, that I could play the piano (so-so) and the flute and that long ago I could sing. That was the extent of my artistic capabilities as I understood them. Because that was all I accepted about myself.

But this acceptance was simply an uninformed lie. I’d never tried anything visual arts-wise. I had settled into what Carol Dweck calls a fixed versus growth mindset. One that maintained rather rigid assumptions about my abilities. Ironically, I’d been teaching Dweck’s work for years but I hadn’t seen that I had a fixed notion of my creative capabilities — before even attempting them.

Except, there was that one collage I’d made in a fit of manic anger. I’d kept it among some old posters, now living under my bed like a little ghost of Christmas past. Christmas Eve 2003, my then-husband told me he was leaving me and the children in the morning. (He did.) But it didn’t seem like real art.

First Collage by Author

This year, while sheltering in place, I decided to give collaging another go. I’d found an old letter written by a girl I’d sung with in several high school…



Jodi Barnes, PhD

Writer and Collaborator-in-Chief of https://www.14wordsforlove.com where small acts of writing, art and conversation create multicultural connections for good.