Creativity Reading Response 6: Vision

Visual art is the most recognizable form of creativity, I believe. In Piirto’s sixth chapter of her book Understanding Creativity, she explores what visual artistry brings to society, whether it is through common creative ideals or other things.

As a feminist who reads about and discusses the construction of gender roles, it was fascinating to see what she had to say about visual artists being androgynous in their practice. Artists have end goals of creating something that emits a message or feeling. Feelings and messages don’t innately have a gender, so it makes sense that artists combine the characteristics that are typically denoted to a gender different than their own. Piirto brought up other studies that showed how the “psychology of creative men is a feminine psychology by comparison with less creative men; the psychology of creative women is a masculine psychology by comparison with less creative women” (150–151). Frieda Kahlo, one of the most creative women known to the visual art world, even tried to emit the essence of being a son to her father since he lost a son to infantile death. I find it fascinating that even in a world wear gender isn’t so explicitly a part of a job, the construction of a binary is incorporated in how we quantify creativity and how it is expressed. It just shows that it is easier for our brains to put things in categories like that.

It was interesting to see that Piirto pointed out how this androgyny tied into pacifism. Artists are more into loving and caring than fighting because of their ability to express emotions in multiple ways. Men usually are the ones to decide to go to war because of the idea that men aren’t in tune with their feelings as much, so creative people have a womanly ideal of talking and emoting things before violence becomes involved.

Creativity may be seen so clearly in visual arts and the artists that create it, but feministic ideas and the construction of gender is still so deeply intertwined to how we define this creativity.


Creativity Class Reflection 6: Make it work, designers

Giving gifts is more complicated than navigating the trash people at the mall. This past week in Creativity class, we followed this video tutorial from Stanford’s design school that took us through nine steps of the process of giving a gift. We worked with a partner in class to figure out the last time they gave a gift and provide solutions for them.

I was paired with my classmate Sarah and the last gift she gave was a little Valentine’s package for her friend who goes to Arkansas. I got to dive deep into what this friendship means to her and how it has developed since they were 9 years old. It was fascinating to learn about what pushes her to give gifts and how that varies between the different people in her life.

We then had to think of “radical” solutions to a problem statement we created based on the reasoning for our partner to give a gift. I really took “radical” to heart and my solutions included things like giving her friend heated up gloves and using an owl. Lucky me, Sarah is a huge Harry Potter fan and the owl idea was her favorite.

The best and probably most Project Runway moment of the whole class was when we had 10 minutes to create a prototype of our solution with crappy arts and crafts supplies. I used lots of different pipe cleaners, some packing material and feathers to create Sarah’s messenger owl, Charlie. Everyone in the class cooed over my fuzzy blob of an owl and Sarah absolutely loved it.

Everyone took this activity differently, but we all agreed that the rushed timing off all the steps freaked us out. What it made us do is just trust in our instincts and dive in to our ideas, no matter how strange they may seem. The ticking of the clock didn’t distract me as much as it just pushed me give in to my creativity. I found this exercise really fun and explorative to who I am when it comes to solving problems and who my classmates are when it comes to giving.

Also, I have a new little owl friend hanging in my apartment, so that is pretty cool.

Creativity Reflection 6: Lost in Art

I’m the kind of girl that would be more than happy with going on a date to the Art Institute of Chicago. True story: I gave my number to a cute waiter in KC and he texted me while I was at the Nelson-Atkins art museum. Not only did he chirp his approval but, he gave me detailed directions to his favorite piece of art in the museum and told me how it made him feel. I swooned.

Art museums have always been a place where I lose myself and find myself all at the same time. My creativity class took us to the hidden gem known as Mizzou North to the Museum of Art and Archeology. We were prompted to just walk around and find what piece of art spoke to us and then mediate on it. I was on a mission to find some “glass dress” that my friend mentioned was there, but I hit another piece before it that really sucked me in. It was titled “Grabbing Snatching Blink and You Be Gone” by Carrie Mae Weems

This work was a part of a Black American exhibit and it was supposed to evoke the feelings of Black Americans and the slave trade in and out of America. It was the strangest thing, but I felt the air sucked out of me when I looked at it. I felt panicked, afraid and alone. I felt my eyes blur and the words from the middle canvas flashed across the two canvases. With a blink I could breathe again. The work reminded me of my white privilege and how I could easily snap out of feeling that way and how that is reality for other people. It was one of the strangest and deepest reactions I have had to a work of art in a long while.

On my journey to find the glass dress, I ran across some Grecian vases and pottery. The description intrigued me because it talked about Greek Symposiums, which were just gatherings of dudes to drink and enjoy entertainment that was usually female prostitutes. I giggled because it reminded me of the premise of a Greek fraternity party that I have been to. Women are there for the entertainment of drunken men and there is inevitably some men who get with each other instead of women. History tends to repeat itself. Art reflects function and form, but it’s fascinating how something so beautiful and delicate had the purpose for something so raunchy and rowdy.

I made it to the glass dress and I was just as enamored as I thought I would be. It is called “Sleep” by Karen LaMonte. It was created by creating a glass mold around a human form and then a piece of clothing. The human form is removed so the dress is looking like it is floating in space but carries the life and action of being on a person. I stood around the dress got close enough to almost touch it by accident. Clothing is a huge source of life for me and it is my main art and expression. It is a huge part of my identity and it can be changed depending on my mood or how I want society to see me. This piece spoke directly to that because it showed how clothing can be something that covers up your body yet is a window to your self-expression. Your identity has layers, like the layer of clothing and the layer of your body. The fact that it was made in glass also is a form that always fascinates me. Glass is so brittle and fragile that it hardly seems like the material to use to express flexible things like clothes or the active movement of a body. But, that probably makes sense that is was used to show this very human concept because humanity is so fragile and layers of identity can be easily shattered.

This trip to the art museum opened my eyes to what I knew I loved and was drawn to (i.e. pretty clothes) but it opened my creative eyes to how materials are used to express a variety of feelings and thoughts. I can’t wait to get lost again to further open my mind to what is my own truth.

Creativity Reflection 5: Keeps getting better

The weather has been amazing here in mid-Missouri, which makes me happy and mad at the same time. I love winter and snow, but I can’t be one to poo-poo sunshine and the ability to drink beer on patios in February. This weather also kind of gives me some of that Vitamin D and endorphins that snowless winters don’t give me (snow always gives me happies). All those good feelings reminded me of another journaling exercise that we learned in creativity a couple of weeks ago called “What’s better?” I thought it would be hard to remember things that were good about my days/weeks when I first got a Passion Planner that had determined spots for those things, but it actually isn’t that hard. So, for this week’s creative idea I will list what things are better about this week than last week:

  • The weather, duh
  • My faith in social justice because of the #BlackLivesMatter speakers that I saw
  • My excitement for going to New York with magazine club
  • I’ve been sleeping a bit better
  • I’ve had great homemade meals thanks to the roommate
  • I’ve had great brunches and lunches and seen people I usually don’t see because of those outings
  • I got to dance at Roxy’s without a creeper touching me
  • It was nice enough to wear my new Birkenstocks
  • I got to pet tons of puppies at Logboat
  • I got to make a new friend

That is a pretty long list and I am sure I could think of more if sat and thought harder. Sometimes you need to remember all the great things, opportunities and people you are blessed with to remember that you are capable of doing amazing things, and that is exactly what I needed this week. I refuse to let myself sit in a funk when I can list all the good things about my life.

Creativity Class Reflection 5: Transformers

We have done a decent amount of coloring in my Creativity class. We are very on-trend in that sense, but that isn’t why we do it. This past week, we explored what our muse and critic looked like in our mind’s eye.

My muse

My critic

Now, I am no artist, but I am not ashamed to share these rough crayon and marker drawings because they are pretty accurate to what my mind sees for these entities. We were taken through an imagery exercise to find our muse. When asked to think of a safe place as a child, the first thing I saw was the willow my brothers and I called the “Hiding Tree” in my old backyard. It was a common fort, house and hideaway with enough room under it for all four of us. The kind of muse that came to me in my imagery journey was more light-based than a full human being, but I did picture a female in this light. It sort of reminded me of the fairy in Pinocchio or the Good Fairy in the Wizard of Oz who travels as a little bubble of light. I knew my muse had to have some sort of love and girl power emanating from her because that is what inspires me and makes me feel happiest most.

I was surprised when I had to draw a cartoonish version of my critic because the first thing that came to mind was a woman. I pictured this crotchety old woman who had antiquated views of what I could be based on my gender and stature. She pushes me to stay quiet and timid and stereotypically “ladylike” instead of saying what is on my mind. She questions my strength and abilities and wants me to just be a housewife without purpose.

We had to direct our fellow classmates in being a version of ourselves, our critic and our muse while we watched and took their place to figure out how we felt with our physical muses and critics in play. I had to move my critic farther away, but not as far as I expected I would because my muse’s voice was louder than I thought it would be. It was fascinating putting these non-tangible entities into action and putting myself more into control.

Something I had some control over was my transformative project, which I got to present to the rest of my class this week. I had written haikus everyday for about three weeks to try to transform how I look at language and my own creative process. I never thought writing a little three stanza poems would be so difficult, but it was. By the end I was starting to think them up throughout the day, and I hope to use it as a way to get back into journaling because my poems were like little reflections of my day. I put all the singular lines all over a poster board in correlating colors so that my classmates could see how scattered my creative process is, but how all the different parts could be put together into a whole. I loved being able to see what different things my classmates did and what they learned from it. Whether it was changing their hair everyday or starting conversations with strangers, I felt like I learned a little bit more about how I could step out of my own comfort zone through their ideas.

Creativity Reading Response 5: Scaredy pants

*Note: I switched my readings for last week and this week in my posts and I really wanted to comment on this one.*

I am not scared of spiders like most people. Or snakes, really. I do sometimes have this recurring nightmare where  I am being chased through a Toon Town factory by a gunman, so you can say that aggressive men with guns scare me. But, what scares me more than it probably should is letting people down with my ideas and being wrong.

In Twyla Tharp’s The Creative HabitLearn it and Use it for Life, there is a list of the author’s  creative fears that tend to be common fears that inhibit ideation in other people. The fears are as follows:

  1. People will laugh at me.
  2. Someone has done it before.
  3. I have nothing to say.
  4. I will upset someone I love.
  5. Once executed, the idea will never be as good as it is in my mind.

When it comes to the first one, I feel like I have learned to laugh at myself to a certain degree. I do ridiculous things all the time, or I might sputter dumb things and ideas, but I usually just end up giggling. The only times I have really let the idea of people laughing at me get under my skin is when people are laughing and making fun of me in a way that is to demean my ability to create ideas as a woman/short person/journalist/some other silly identifier. Even if I get upset because of that, I have learned to channel those feelings (eventually) into proving people I am more than capable with my ideas.

Number 2 is never a huge worry for me because I study fashion and I know how trends and ideas are recycled all the time. Number 3 is usually not a huge worry either because I tend to have something to say. I worry more about my ability to say an idea of my own because I am so much better at saying things to build off of ideas or direct the brainstorming discussion, which are both still important.

Number 4 hits at what I meant about letting people down. I am a perfectionist and I worry about making everything I do the best that it can be because I am afraid that my parents will look down on me if I don’t. But, when it comes down to it, they tend to think more highly of my work than I ever do. The person that I love that I am probably the most afraid to upset is myself. It’s a weird cycle that way and that prohibits my confidence with my creativity the most.

With that whole perfectionism thing, number 5 is sort of a worry, but not always because sometimes I work out all the kinks in my mind before I execute it so I know it will be exactly what I want it to be. When things haven’t worked out for me, I usually resort to my all-too-familiar giggle tactic and adjust it as I see fit.

This reading really reminded me how you can’t let fear hold you back from letting an idea hit the wall. You never know what might stick unless you try and people aren’t always as awful as you think.

Creativity Reflection 4: Future Vee

We had a guest come into our creativity class to teach us about creative journaling techniques. One thing that we did was write a conversation to our future self. I wrote 10 years into the future to my 32-year-old self. It was fascinating to see how easily my future thoughts came to me when I separated myself from this different entity of me. For this week’s creative idea, I will continue my conversation with myself here:

Me: Will you stick with journalism?

Future Me: Why are you so concerned if I “stick” with it? What are you worried about?

Me: I worry that I wasted four years at the best journalism school in the nation. I worry that I should’ve switched to Strat Comm or just to Textile and Apparel Management.

Future Me: Just because your degree will be a BJ (that joke will get old soon, seriously) doesn’t mean you have to ever work at a newspaper. Your degree has taught you so much about how you work with yourself and others and how to communicate. Anyone, any company needs that.

Me: But, I have always felt like all the other journo students were so much better than me, how will I fit in?

Future Me: Typical. That’s the J-School for you. Pitting you against your friends and professors pushing you to do better through pure competition. You can’t let that destroy your positive headspace. Let it make you stronger, let it push you to do better, but you can’t let it freak you out to the point of being complacent.

Me: So, I’ll be all right?

Future Me: Yes, you will. Now, why are you trying so hard to picture your life without a husband or kids at 32?

Me: I am afraid of letting go of my independence. I know people call me VeronMom but I don’t know if I want the responsibility all the time. It seems so daunting right now.

Future Me: Understandable, but once you aren’t in such a temporary and moving state of mind, you’ll realize it might be something you actually want. But you have time.

Transformative project update: 

I have realized that I have started thinking about my haikus throughout the day. It has become a way for me to collect my thoughts and review something that happened or some of the things I felt during the day. My haikus aren’t the prettiest and sometimes are kind of like run-on sentences, but I like the rhythm they have. That kind of rhythm has the ability to mold to a bunch of different thoughts and feelings. There have been a couple times I had to catch up on some haikus if I forgot to do them and it was kind of nice to go over that day and find inspiration in it. That has taught me a lot about how creativity and inspiration can be found in even little daily moments or things throughout your day that might seen insignificant at the time.