100 Days of Creativity

Kathryn Ross Inspires Stillwater

100 Days of Creativity
Kathryn Ross and her hand-stitched afghan shawl that she made for one of her creativity projects. Each thread’s color corresponds to the day’s temperature in Stillwater.

Kathryn Ross is a lover of nature, a lifelong Montessori educator, and the driving force behind inspiring waves of creativity in Stillwater for the past three years.

"I'm definitely not a business person," she says with a laugh. She walks daily, about five to seven miles, weather permitting. A master gardener, artist, and part-time teacher, she describes herself as an "outdoors person."

Kathryn grew up in a family of artists, engulfed in the green of Colorado's Western Slope. "My mom was a painter. A number of people in my family sang, and my husband was a potter," she said. Growing up in Aspen Colorado, she gained a love of walking in nature that forged a lifelong passion and capacity for attention and wonder. She spent her professional career working to nurture that sense of artistic wonder in her children. 

"It's hard to get involved in a big city like Denver," says Kathryn. In 2019 she sold her house in Denver and moved to Stillwater to be closer to her daughter's family. She quickly fell in with the local arts community and joined a book club.

Reading the book "Between Two Kingdoms" by Suleika Jaouad one day sparked an idea. The author, Suleika, was undergoing intensive treatment for leukemia. To keep her safe since her immune system was blasted, the hospital isolated her for 100 days. So she decided to do something creative to pass the time. "I was so intrigued by that idea of sort of pushing yourself to be creative every day that I decided to do something myself," Kathryn told me.

Kathryn shared her idea with the members of her book club. Then she told her friend Valerie Bloodgood, owner of Modella Gallery, and then Meghan Brasuell at Prairie Arts Center. Together, they hatched an idea allowing anyone in Stillwater to participate in a 100-Day creativity project.

The idea quickly spread around Stillwater. In 2023, the Chamber of Commerce completed 100 visits in 100 days. Kathryn's friend Valerie Goodblood wrote a haiku poem every day for 100 days. For their 100-Day Project, the Sheerar Museum posted highlights from Stillwater newspaper headlines (below).

Kathryn's first project was a postcard painting one day for 100 days. 

"My goal really wasn't to get better. I just wanted to think about something creative every day and develop that habit."

At the end of the 100 days, Kathryn was surprised by all the submissions displayed at the 100-Day Project show at Modella Art Gallery. "They just came out of the woodwork…They weren't all drawing, and they weren't all music. They were all different."

Her second project was more ambitious, covering all 365 days. "This is 365 days of the weather in Oklahoma. I chose a different color yarn for every 10 degrees. Ariel, my daughter, suggested I try to find colors from the natural landscape in Oklahoma." Deep greens and blues correspond to the colder months of January and February, warm, earthly browns and greens of Spring, and warm, sunlit gold colors of Summer. Each new month is marked in a dark red band.

When she started the temperature shawl, she expected the hottest times to be in the middle of the year. But looking at her shawl, "The heat stays a lot longer. I've learned a lot about weather," she chuckles.

For Kathryn, creativity is a practical antidote to the deadening malaise of mass media.

"I think it is really easy, especially today,— I find myself scrolling through the news for two hours. It's not getting me anywhere. I may know more about what's happening in the world, but I'm not necessarily able to do anything about it. And it can really bring you down, and I'll tell you what, this [pointing down at the shawl] does not. It's sort of joyful really, I find, to do something like this for even just ten minutes a day."

Meanwhile, Kathryn Ross is marking the passage of time with her third project for 2024. She committed to walking five to seven miles daily, taking one picture and a screenshot of the miles she's walked.

This latest project and all the other 100-day projects will be on display at Modella again during Krazy Daze, July 17-21, 2024. The public is welcome to come and be inspired.


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