Alumni Forums: Aesthetics and Creativity in the Personal Realm Part 1

Alumni Forums: Aesthetics and Creativity in the Personal Realm Part 1


Thank you and welcome back to the second
half of our fifth Alumni Forum here at the
International Center for Studies in Creativity at Buffalo State College. This
forum, a creative journey of expression, self-discovery, growing others, and it’s a forum
on aesthetics and creativity in the personal realm. And today we have right now as Brian Nesline, Hedra Lunkin, Colleen Barts, and Craig Kosinski with us. And thank you, thanks
for coming back. And we’ll start off with a little bit more of a future focus, kind
of a present and future focus, and these are just conversation starters. So we’re looking at, if you think
about how creativity might strengthen society or your profession,
what are some things that you’d like to see happen? And… but yeah, what would you like to see happen in the future? So I’ll open it to whomever might wish to start us off. Well, I can see in my profession, I guess, of the museum world, that there really is starting to head head towards what I’d say a good place. Things are
becoming much more interactive, computers are being used more, uh… which can be good and bad. I’m more for just stripped down exhibits. If
they’re interactive, let them play with the raw materials,
you know, and don’t enhance it electronically, you know, because there’s a lot of
maintenance issues there but that’s another thing. But museums themselves are really reaching out to society and want
to be come change agents for society, which is a good thing because people need
to be.. to have something to help them change. And if students wanted to – and looking at our
students in our program, if they were interested in that kind of profession, what would you tell them? How to get into it? Well, I went on for a second Master’s degree because it’s really true what Sid and Ruth had been saying about creativity, is that it’s a process. You need to apply content to it. So You just can’t really go out and be creative unless you’re reflecting
some other sort of content into that creativity. If you’re a teacher and your, your thing is the process of teaching
and you’re using creativity as the content for teaching it. But if you’re an artist, you’ve got
the creativity but you’re drawing, you have to be drawing from a lot of background in order to process that content through the different aspects that we we’ve
learned in creative studies and the different techniques. My favorite technique, by the way, are forced
relationships. But… yeah. Favorite techniques? Forced relationships, anyone else? No? [laughter] So, to get into the museum
field, I went into, I got a degree in arts management. And I was preparing myself to, you know, become a curator and basically I am a
curator where I am. I’m an in-house curator for the exhibit fabricator. I interface with curators and that’s been
really rewarding because they’re the people that create the
content for the museum and to work with them on that level, and bringing out their, their objects, and help them tell the story is quite
rewarding. It’s funny ’cause, you know, you talk about getting your degree in creativity, and then going and looking at the expertise
within your domain. Brian talked about coming back for… to get the… his expertise in his field and got hooked on creativity. So it’s interesting, the two different paths towards the same kind of marriage between you know the imagination and the knowledge base within your domain. Interesting. And that’s Ruth’s formula, you know, the Creativity is a function of knowledge, imagination, and evaluation. I believe. Is that right, everybody? Ah, yes, a function of the attitude, that’s right.
It’s the attitude towards. Well I’ll go next, because I want to talk about the future. arm I think you had mentioned, a couple of you actually said, you said
being open to possibilities, deferring judgment and being open to things. This program is unique in the fact that rather than teaching you something specific,
it is teaching you the process, it is teaching you many, many tools, and the
tools are unbelievable and you you can make up your own after a while. I mean when I used to… I worked with, I did a lot of
work the Blaire Miller, and he used to say to me after a while that you can put it
together yourself, you can make your own figures, your own activities, your own
interactive activities. But with the program does here for you, and what I’d love to see is to bring this
out. When we first started, it wasn’t in a lot of the school systems.
We had a lot of teachers coming here and thank God it’s in the school systems now,
they teach creativity in the school systems. I know most companies know how to do
brainstorming, they may not quite do it the way we do it, but they do know how to look for more
ideas than one or two ideas. So I think that’s a wonderful thing. I can’t thank Sid Parnes or Ruth Noeller enough for starting this whole thing and
for getting us where we are and for, the father before him, I can’t think of his name, Alex Osborn! I mean, if you haven’t read Alex’s book, read it, because
it’s all about deferring judgment in a time when there was different judgment. These are so basic. And if we could learn this as a world
society, if we could do this in the world today, You’re living in a time that is
so exciting to think who the President of the United States is, whether you’re a Democrat or a
Republican, I don’t care. What’s happened in the world now, what’s going on in the world all over it, if we can learn to defer judgment, to
accept other people, to think about things differently than
the way we’re thinking about it, maybe the narrow way we think about it isn’t right,
and there’s other ways of doing things. If we can be open to these things, we can
change the world. If we can teach the young people – she’s
teaching young, sixth grade – if we can teach these people to be
open a new ideas and not just the right way… I was thinking of the purple crayon,
you know, you have purple flower, purple crayon, but it doesn’t matter what color you
draw the flower. You can have all different colored flowers. This is the most important thing that
you’re going to learn in this program is the kind of thing that, what I said to you
before about my grandchildren, I want them to know I’m eccentric.
I want them to know I’m different. I want them to know that I do things differently. Because I want them to feel free to do
it, too. And if you can pass this down to your
generations, to your friends and your family and those people senior to you and younger to you in the companies that
you work in, we can have a better world to live in. We can learn how to do things better. I think the future of the world can depend a
lot on getting this creativity spread out even more
than it is. We’re in all the countries of the world.
If you go to CPSI you’ll see many, many, many countries represented. But we need more. We need more. Playing on her, because, as an educator and and being in the
school systems, but even in life in general, it’s so, so very easy to focus on the negative
and it’s so very easy to sit there and say, “Oh I’m just not good at math. I’m just not good at drawing. I can’t do it.” It’s so easy to just shut it
down, and once you shut it down, and once you tell yourself you can’t, you’re
absolutely right. You’re not going to be able to do whatever it is your telling
yourself you can’t. And I have a big sign in my classroom, and it’s a big “I can’t” with a big line going through it,
a big red line, and I tell my students, it’s not that you
can’t, it’s, the thing is, “I’ll try. I’ll at least try.” And the kids walk away, and they come over,
and they’ll say “I can’t do this,” and they’ll hand me a blank
piece of paper and I say, “You’ve got to give me a try. Just give me one try before I’m going to show you, but you give me a try.” And then they’ll
walk away and they’ll give that try, and then they’ll come back and they’ll say “Alright.” And I’m like, “That’s great! Look, you did this
right, you did this right, you did this right… let’s be positive about this. What
was done well? Where did you go? Where do we go from here? We’ve got all this, now we have to add this
and this… what else could we change?” And then they go back and they’re
excited now, because they got something right. But it’s that whole thing of the feeling that you can’t get it wrong once.
You can’t even make mistakes and I love making mistakes. And the mistake quotient I learned about… I told the kids and they laugh at me now. I make mistakes all the time. I have ten mistakes
today and I write it on the board, and the kids will go up to the board and mark my mistakes. “Oh, you said that wrong.” “Oh, you wrote that wrong.” And I’m like “Good! That’s another one, put it up there!” It’s okay. And we have to be allowed to make
mistakes because that’s how we learn, that’s how we change, and that’s how we grow. And what I love to see in the classrooms
now is the fact that in the school where I’m at right now, they’re
actually identifying that the kids are learning at different paces, they’re learning in different ways, and once they acknowledge that in this kid
learns visually and this kid learns orally and this kid learns by doing, then the teachers are learning: “Okay, I’m going to
teach it X, Y, and Z ways, and how am I going to teach this?” And they’re applying that in the
classrooms now, and it’s becoming a builder in the classrooms. So in a positive way, creativity is getting there, it’s starting to build again. For me personally, I would hope that the arts, and when I say arts I mean music,
arts, everything, gets built upon in the schools because
that’s the foundation of education from way back when, and it’s so easy in this tough economy to say Let’s start
slashing it up. Let’s just start getting rid of all the stuff we
don’t need.” And they put the labels on what’s actually
needed, and what’s truly needed is to get the kids to think and to be creative and to go outside those boxes that they’re stuck in all day by reading
that book and applying the answer to the test, read the book apply the answer
to the test. And they don’t get their formula anymore
of problem solving and they don’t get to really start to sink their fingers in
the playdough or the mud or whatever it is and create, and to think, and invent, and become intuitive like that. And I want
to see more of that, and I’m just hoping that the way things are going that that’s not
going to happen. because that’s not what we need. And you
can see it when you have someone like the president that we have who’s sitting there saying, “Well let’s think about this, let’s be open about this, let’s look at where we do need to cut.” And I’m really hoping that over the process that’s going to take place, it’s not going to slash the system but grow
the system. I am hopeful for the education system,
but it’ll be interesting to see what happens over time now. That’s quite a paradox that, you know, there’s all this
competition to get better, but in having this competition, the kids are freezing up and, and while creativity is needed to be able
to get out there with the finger paints and the playdough, they’re likely to feel that they’re
being marked on that also. So they just have to have free play
time and let them go wild and do what they need to in that play, you know? Yeah, that whole idea that deep thinking requires play,
curiosity, as well as much of the domain expertise. One thing I was thinking about, while you guys were sharing, is that I, too, am there with what you all are
saying as far as teaching creativity to, you know, to people, who don’t value it or who don’t think that
it’s anything real or worthwhile, and, you know, what better than with
children, because they really haven’t formulated any “what’s real and worthwhile” ideas yet. You know, they aren’t going to necessarily say
that creativity is worthless because they haven’t really lived long enough to
form that opinion or that bias or something. The thing I was going, that I was
thinking about, was that when I think about my own experience,
you know, when I was a kid, and just how it really is is that we
teach, you know, that this is a microphone, this is a cup, you know,
we teach that this is something and this is something else and they are not the
same, they are separate. We have to teach that a square is a square and
a circle is a circle, so that people can learn to recognize the
material objects around them and be able to function in this world. But at a certain point, it seems to me that there’s a dependency on this being a
microphone and this being cup and this is always going to be a circle and we start to get addicted, I think, to, you know, “I have to know what everything is
around me and I have to… and I have to know that it’s different
from everything else.” Each thing has its one right behavior. Each thing has its one right
answer. And when you give me this test with these math questions, this has one right answer and you’re
training me that everything has one right answer. And so when I get it wrong, I get
punished for it. I have to get that one right answer, you know, and so you train
me more to learn to look for one right answer. And I think that that’s part of the problem. I get it that we have to learn how to find one right answer, but we also have to learn how to abandon that at a certain stage how to teach them
how to abandon it without calling it a negative thing. You know, how
could I abandon the cup and still be able to drink out of it? And believe me,
I’ve abandoned this cup. It’s gone. But I still can use it. [laughter] The other thing I wanted to say about
this is that one thing I thought about was, if they had taught me… okay, they could’ve told me everything
they wanted to in social studies and math and English all in one project. For example, if, let’s say that the project was to build a model rocket. Then they could have worked math in there and worked, you know, even physics in there, they
could’ve worked uh… language in there in some way, they could have worked social studies and
history in there… they could have taught me the things they wanted me to learn by making the building of that model
rocket the focus. So in the end, when I had that one answer (which is the model rocket) I wouldn’t really have that. I would be
focused on the little bit of history I learned, the little bit of English I learned,
the little bit of math I learned, and I would’ve also left knowing that things aren’t always what they seem, that
they contain more than just that one thing that I’m looking at. A lot of times when I speak like this,
I’m not sure if I’m really getting across, you know, my points. I don’t
know if this is clear. It’s another danger of living in the world creativity is
you don’t really know. That’s where we all come
together. But I definitely think it’s because of
the way that teaching happens that we’re so dependent on this is this and not that, as from an early age, and that we don’t know how to abandon
that, and feel safe in abandoning that
without being called crazy like, “You can’t abandon that, you’re nuts!” So anybody have any comments or
thoughts about that? I had a conversation with my brother-in-law and sister-in-law once, it was a very positive conversation, and they were discussing the grades. And
their son wasn’t doing well in arts class and they didn’t think it was fair that their son got
a grade in art because it was bringing down his grade point average. and I said, and they said, “So he shouldn’t be graded for that.” And so I said, “Well, my daughter is not
doing well in science class so I don’t think she should get graded in that class.” [laughter] And it’s like, you can’t pick and choose because what you find important is important and what somebody else finds important… you have to come to an agreement that these things are important. These things are
important in education. All of them. That’s why you go to college and you
get a well-rounded degree, a bachelor’s degree, you take arts courses, even in college. There’s a reason for it. The same way you point out the
microphone and I look at it and I say, “No, I see plastic tubing and wire,” and
and I look at it totally different. But that’s okay. And it’s acceptance again, that we go back to that, and I think
that’s great that that’s microphone but I think it’s cool because I can make
it into something else. And on a personal level, one of the the things that happened with me when I went back to the
book and I realized, that my thing is based on Life doesn’t get better,
it gets different. Because when I graduate the program
and I didn’t know what was going on and my husband passed away, somebody said to me, “Oh, it will get better.” And I thought to myself,
How can it get better? I had a great life. But if I open myself to possibilities, and I don’t use the same criteria, and I can use different criteria, I can make
my life anything I want it to be. I had new criteria and it got different, and
the different can be phenomenal, even more fantastic than before. But to make something better than it was
before, you’ve got to keep doing it the same way, in the same way, and judging it the same
way, And if we keep judging things, we’re not going
to move. We’re not going to move at all.

Danny Hutson

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *