The Arts are not an Enrichment

The Arts are not an enrichment. The Arts are a core value that informs all other forms of learning. The arts engage individuals. They are culture. Creativity has been cleansed from most of education in California. The crisis in creativity started in 1978 with the passage of Prop 13. The arts almost immediately began disappearing from schools across the State. And, with each subsequent economic and budgetary crisis more and more of the arts have been carved away. The removal of the arts has been going on for so long that most of the teachers who have been trained here have never had an adequate arts education. The only ones who retain an interest in communicating the arts are the ones, who thankfully were raised in a home that had some form of cultural appreciation. The importance of allowing creativity back into a child’s education cannot be overstated. Especially in todays rapidly changing global, technological, competitive work environment. The understanding that it’s creativity that has made us who we have been in the past seems to have been lost. Ingraining the arts and creative thinking is essential to our future and our kid’s future. The primary way I work to bring arts back into classrooms is through teaching drawing. Drawing is almost a lost art, especially in public education. Drawing enhances and informs all other forms of learning. It causes us to think and see the world in new and different ways. Drawing stimulates neural development through spatial thinking, critical analysis, and hand eye coordination. It reengages kids back into learning in new ways, or very old ways, which... read more

Creativity and Drawing

As an artist and a teacher creativity in my work and my teaching is a natural exercise. At least for me, but creativity is not always easy for most of my students and friends. Over the years I have spoken to countless people who say, I can’t draw a straight line, or the like. It’s usually for two reasons. The first is they were never taught properly to draw or paint or be creative. The second, and more importantly, no one ever made it OK for them to be creative. Listen to any of Ken Robison’s speeches on creativity in education. Creativity can be scary for most people, especially if you are being judged on it. The most important thing I tell my class is, to be creative, experiment and don’t be afraid of the results. You learn more from the things you do wrong than from the things you do right. And its OK to “fail” at something over and over, till one second everything clicks and you get it. That’s the start of creative growth, not the finished product. I tell them that for every nice piece of artwork that I put out into the world there are dozens of false starts, hundreds of failed attempts, and sometimes thousands of not so good results that went into the one really good one you see published or displayed. Creativity needs a safe place to exist, to grow, especially in a kid’s life. Our students are so used to the rigors of testing and the classroom, so afraid to not conform, that most don’t have a clue on how... read more

Bringing Creativity Back into Education

I think one of the main things we can do as educators is to be open to the creativity that comes naturally out of the children right in front of us. In CA, I see lots of teachers, who, not having an arts education themselves are not sensitive to what is a valuable teaching resource right in front of them. I know that it’s difficult to be more spontaneous and open in the midst of top down, dictated curriculum, especially in CA, but I see lots of natural creativity in kids every day. Can we teach teachers how to be aware of this energy? Can we teach them how to identify, and redirect kids, creative energy? This kind of turns the problem around and can become an opportunity. Are we, as teachers open to what the students offer? Can we take what comes out of them and create a pathway for that creativity in them? This is especially true in the middle and high schools now, where technological natives are now maturing. As they grow, they will continue to change the landscape of learning on their own. It’s up to us, the older generation(s) that have to adapt to their world. Can we be prepared in the moment and have the personal and professional tools at hand to offer them, in an instant, a way to express their creativity, the way that they are now used to. For my projects, I went to Pinterest and typed in art and science. Pinterest came back with two categories and hundreds of projects and experiments that combine art and science. http://www.pinterest.com/keywester05/art-science-projects/\ http://www.pinterest.com/shannonishii/science-art-experiments/... read more

The Importance of Creativity in Society

Most people stand in awe in front of the expressive nature of a hundred million dollar Picasso painting. But they really don’t need to have one. They may however need the latest improvement in a minimally invasive microsurgery to repair something that has gone wrong inside themselves. Creativity exists, and influences society in all kinds of ways. And, in some ways that are more than just expression and incremental improvements. Society cannot exist without creativity and creativity has no platform without society. The two are connected together in an endless march forward for humanity. I see society placing important value on creativity in three essential ways. The first and most obvious way is in the form of artistic expression. Creativity functions as a central medium in the relationship between people, culture and society. Creativity is the fuel that artists, writers, poets and musicians use to produce cultural events and societies artifacts. It’s essentially, along with talent, what draws thousands to concerts, museums and coffee shops on a daily basis. The second, more subliminal, but more functional way creativity usually plays a role in society is through constant innovation, or as Moran puts it, improvement. Often we, as a society take innovation for granted. Although, we happen to be living in one of the most impressive displays of innovation mankind has ever witnessed, the maturation of mobile, digital, communications technology. Normally innovation happens somewhat more in the background of society. I’ve been witness to the constant cycle of innovation in the medical industry. As a service provider, I’ve worked for several small groups of individuals over the years that collectively... read more

Creative Contributions of Differing Cultures – The Artist as Storyteller

Throughout time, artists have been the scribes, the recording secretaries, and the caretakers, that both carried forward and left behind the languages, histories, and religious stories of cultures from around the world. This is particularly true of artist and craftsmen who carve. Both stone and wood carvers have held a special place in cultural history as the interpreters of visions, as religious conveyers of teachings, of historians, and as storytellers. Collective creativity within one culture, and across many has been at the heart of the artist as storyteller. Culture defined as ”shared motives, values, beliefs, identities, and interpretations or meanings of significant events that result from common experiences of members of collectives and are transmitted across generations”. These “collectives” or groups, tribes and societies have consistently used artists as an essential part of the cultural collective. Sawyer’s description of “habituated collective” in traditional societies where the artist takes the vision of the Shaman and carves a spiritual mask for ceremonial uses, is an age old example of how artists have collaborated with indigenous tribal leaders, kings and popes to document the history of their peoples’ across the globe and throughout time. Artists, and in particular carvers have been interpreting these stories and recording them in stone and wood since the dawn of man. Remarkable cave paintings dating back 30,000 years aside, it has been the carvers that have best kept the historical record of thousands of indigenous tribes and cultures alive throughout time. Cultural variations are spread across the globe; yet regional variations are directly linked in style, materials and technique. The carver creates both as an individual and... read more

Creativity in Highly Eminent Individuals

Google test aside, the lovely fruit that highly eminent creative individuals have produced represents the finest mankind has to offer itself. The depth and breadth of human creativity, especially from the truly powerful creative is astounding. And those works generally regarded at that level usually don’t include much outside the white Eurocentric world. See, Maori culture and woodcarvings for just a taste of what Polynesia has to offer or Cycladic sculpture of the Aegean. Leave it to the Greeks, who spent far too much time drinking wine while laying on their backs coming up with creative diagrams of the heavens to glorify the effect of the muse on creativity. So many beautiful muses, so diverse over time, and with such a tremendous influence on the creative work of so many eminently creative people. How much does man owe to the incredible creative energy that muses gift to creative souls? Subtract the muses and we are left with little. Paris disappears. Eminently creative individuals do not choose the subject of their own creations. It is born into them by forces far beyond their control. Picasso could never have switched places with Einstein. Spain made Picasso and Austria Einstein. They are both eminently creative people, but with different wiring. The thing they do share is a lowered resistance to resistance. It’s all so fluid, so fast, with interconnectedness to nature, few boundaries, and little no physical resistance to subject or substance. Gertrude Stein said of Picasso, “no one had ever tried to express things seen not as one knows them but as they are when one sees them without remembering having... read more