Old Lyme artist seeks (and finds) the good in humankind
You may have recently found a blank white postcard in your shoe at the end of a yoga class or in your bicycle basket when you came out of a store. Perhaps you found one on a seat in the train station or in the pew of a church or discovered one at the trailhead when you went for a hike.
If so, you are among the many curious people who have flipped over the cards, read the instructions to write/draw/tape/cut/paste or sew onto it something that you're grateful for, and stamped and mailed it to the address printed on the back.
Tagged "The Look for the Good Project" by its creator, Anne Kubitsky of Old Lyme, the postcards will be displayed-along with artwork that tells Kubitsky's story about her own opening up to gratitude-in an exhibition on Jan. 28 at the Custom House Maritime Museum in New London.
No matter what difficulties life may be throwing at you, Kubitsky challenges you to find something for which you are grateful.
"Can you see the good in yourself? In your friends? Your family?" she asks on her website. "It's okay if you're having a little trouble. Use this moment to dig a little deeper. Underneath it all, there is good. Together, we can uncover it?postcard by postcard."
Kubitsky's belief that when people express gratitude, it makes the world a happier, kinder place is backed by neuroscience. Recent studies show that the expression of gratitude can have profound and positive effects on health, moods, and even the longevity of marriage.
How gratitude grew for the young artist
A graduate of Guilford High School, the seeds of Kubitsky's project were sewn following a traumatic experience (that she prefers not to elaborate on) when she was 15 years old. Struggling to see the good in life, she embarked on a spiritual quest that took her on a cross-country bicycle trip, hikes in the wilderness of Alaska, the sacred places of India and underwater research missions in the tropics. She has spent the last three years living a quiet and solitary life.
She explains that her mother is a former Catholic nun and a war refugee, who taught her to question the world around her.
"I've always been very spiritually minded-getting beyond religious institutions," Kubitsky says.
After receiving a degree in 2005 in marine biology and philosophy from Smith College, Kubitsky took art classes at Paier College of Art in Hamden where her first semester assignment was to make a children's book.
She says she stumbled across an article online about the rescue of a humpback whale freed from crab trap lines near the Farallon Islands by divers, who said the whale remarkably seemed to be thanking them in its motions.
This event inspired her children's book, "Graycie's Catch," which she says is "a whimsical story about the ocean, grace and gratitude." This past spring, the book won the New Voices in Children's Literature: Tassy Walden Award for Best Picture Book, sponsored by the Shoreline Arts Alliance.
Large-scale, full-color prints of illustrations from the book will be included in the Maritime Museum exhibition.
Kubitsky sees the Look for the Good project as tying together all the synchronistic events in her life.
To date, hundreds of people have sent her postcards-from ones they may have found in a shoe to those from all over the world in response to the appeal on her website.
"This has been really uplifting for me because if you look at the news, the political situation, the protests going on, the environment, there's a lot to be upset about," she notes. "Its pretty easy for a young person trying to be established in the world to feel depressed. People are facing a lot of opposition in their day to day lives, and for them to take time to fill out a postcard and find a glimmer of hope or humor gives me hope for humanity."
Kubitsky's plan is to take her show on the road as a traveling exhibit after it leaves the Maritime Museum to keep inspiring people to look for the good. To do this, she needs financial backing, as she has been paying for all the printing and associated costs out of her own pocket.
In the past week alone, Kubitsky says, the community has been generously responding to her plea for donations to keep the project afloat.
"People are helping out left and right," she says. "I walk through a construction site every day on my way to the post office and the site manager started talking with me and gave me a $250 check, no questions asked?I got a $40 donation at the Chester Gallery when I explained what I was doing?a photojournalist from Australia wrote a glowing letter of encouragement (and backed the project), and people are calling almost daily to offer help in any way they can. The fact that they believe in this idea and are willing to support the project has been truly heartwarming."
If you'd like to contribute a postcard to Kubitsky's project, visit http://lookforthegoodproject.org. The deadline is Dec. 12.