Monday, 21 April 2014

Creativity, the Talent and Myth of Craft

As young as I can remember, I’ve always liked to be “creative” I’d always get in trouble for being messy, playing with my food, or drawing instead of doing work. It is something that I've always felt everyone can do, but that only some people choose to really chase it and make random, unordered things. I used to think creativity is our ability to express our imagination. A way that we can show the world how we think.

But what really is creativity? It is one of those questions which will probably never be answered, essentially an ultimate question. There are many different ideas about what creativity is. Robert W. Weisberg wrote that he believed “creative” has many factors; referring to it as being the creator of the work as well as being a “novel products of value”, as in giving an object or work appreciative value.

This raises the question as to whether we just simply label things as creative, that it’s just a word to express skills that have been learnt or talent that seems innate. Is creativity a talent in itself or is it an influence which reinforces a talent? Ken Robinson talks about how everyone is creative as a child and how our upbringing or understanding of how to nurture it affects the future of a potentially “creative” individual. He uses the example of # who had what would now be known as ADHD at a young age. He explains how she flourished as a stage artist and has become an iconic figure in the dancing industry, but mentions the danger that she could’ve been “treated” and never understood or trained what would become her profession. This could come down to the state of technology and how our understanding of how to create with what we have wherever we are may just be a human trait which comes about when we truly require it.

Some believe that creativity comes from culture with the difference in society and environment. This could be seen when comparing Chinese music with Russian music for example, or looking at the difference between art styles in these cultures. In this way, it could be down to the attitude of a government for example which nurtures a skill or not or whether they try to stop this freedom.

But many theories suggest that creativity is something given to us by a more spiritual being. The idea that all creation is combined as one…  “There is one mind common to all individual men” This idea known as transcendentalism was explored by Ralph Waldo Emerson during the 19th century who referred to a “sovereign being” as the Over-soul. This idea of all being one is re-explored by Ervin Laszlo who writes “We raise the possibility that the minds of exceptionally creative people would be in spontaneous, direct, though not necessarily conscious, interaction with other minds within the creative process itself.”

This again evaluates the idea that we learn from one another and the creative process is almost a collaboration of many unique minds. A creative person is someone who understands the beauty of their surroundings and learns from them, be it through other creative works or works of their own. Elizabeth Gilbert talks about her research into pre-modern creativity in the video below. She explains how in ancient history, creative minds thought for themselves and did not look up to another as an almost God like creative being. This is an ideal which has come about in the more recent centuries and is something which she believes is potentially dangerous to creative minds across the world.

Throughout my journey on this course my views about creativity, my talent and the skills I've learnt have drastically changed and made me really think about how I use them. I understand that I have a talent to produce artwork and make some really cool things. But I also think about where I could be now if I had better or worse teaching in school or whether I would have always had an innate talent and creative process regardless. It is one question which really cause you to pause and think about how creativity is one of the life forces behind modern life.

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