Random Thoughts … About Art and Education
INVENTION AND CREATIVITY
by Jerome J. Hausman
Each of us is born into the world at a particular time, in a particular place. How remarkable life can be! Like a seed planted into a specific context, there are certain potentials that are then reconciled, nurtured or repelled in relation to the givens of setting and circumstance.
Seeds have within them predispositions for growth and flowering. Genetic structures provide what can, at once, be seen as potentials as well as limits. Whatever these limits and potentials might be, there are remarkable connections operating in relation to circumstance and environment.
In the chapter on “Interconnectedness” in Wherever You Go, There You Are, 10th Edition (Hachette Books; 2005), Jon Kabat-Zinn comments:
“It seems we know full well from childhood that everything is connected to everything else in certain ways, that for this happens because that happened, that for this to happen, that has to happen” … “Nothing comes from nothing. Everything has antecedents” … “these relationships are not always simple and linear. Usually things are embedded in a complex web of finely balanced interconnections. Certainly what we call life, or health, or the biosphere, are all complex systems of interconnections, with no absolute starting point or end.”
What might it have been like to have been born in prehistoric times? Can we even conceive of what it was like to crawl into the dark, damp, slippery cave openings to view fire-lit drawings on a cave wall in Lascaux or Altamira?
It’s truly remarkable as we contemplate evolutionary changes that have brought us to the present. In the Epilogue of What Is Art For? (University of Washington Press; 1988). Ellen Dissanayake commented on this subject: “Looking at groups of humans existing today, one can indeed only marvel at their divergent and ingenious responses to the common denominators of life: getting a living; protecting themselves from harmful or uncomfortable parts of nature; dealing with sickness, death, birth, deviance; explaining the unexplainable.
“Truly our brains are wonderful, our adaptability and tolerance for change stupendous, our achievements without peer. We are fragile, sensitive, precious, protected chiefly by our abundant wits. Surely we will be capable of improving, of inventing better devices for survival, of ensuring with our brains what other living creatures have not a hope of getting under natural circumstances: peace and plenty and individual fulfillment for all.”
Make no mistake about it: Art education is important because it focuses upon invention and creativity in dealing with our ideas and feelings. Acting like an “artist” involves an attitude, a point of view, that invites thinking in another way: building, putting things in new combinations, “thinking new” to meet the challenges of new circumstance and needs.
A&A Editorial Advisor, Dr. Jerome J. Hausman, is a lecturer, consultant, and a visiting professor at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago.