Contributed by Pat Quinn

A definition of Creativity:

Creativity is the ability to produce something new through imaginative skill, whether a new solution to a problem, a new method or device, or a new artistic objects or form. The term generally refers to a richness of ideas and originality of thinking. Psychological studies of highly creative people have shown that many have a strong interest in apparent disorder, contradiction, and imbalance, which seem to be perceived as challenges. Such individuals may possess an exceptionally deep, broad, and flexible awareness of themselves. Studies also show that intelligence has little correlation with creativity; thus, a highly intelligent person may not be very creative.[http://www.answers.com]

A description of Creativity:

Creativity is the ability to see something in a new way, to see and solve problems no one else may know exists, and to engage in mental and physical experiences that are new, unique, or different. Creativity is a critical aspect of a person’s life, starting from inside the womb onward through adulthood.

Although many people equate creativity with intelligence, the two terms are not synonymous, and it is not necessary to have a genius-level IQ in order to be creative. While creative people do tend to have average or above-average scores on IQ tests, beyond an IQ of about 120 there is little correlation between intelligence and creativity. Researchers have found environment to be more important than heredity in influencing creativity, and a child’s creativity can be either strongly encouraged or discouraged by early experiences at home and in school.

Standard intelligence tests measure convergent thinking, which is the ability to come up with a single correct answer. However, creativity involves divergent thinking, which is the ability to come up with new and unusual answers.

Creative individuals tend to share certain characteristics, including a tendency to be more impulsive or spontaneous than others. Nonconformity (not going along with the majority) can also be a sign of creativity. Many creative individuals are naturally unafraid of experimenting with new things; furthermore, creative people are often less susceptible to peer pressure, perhaps because they also tend to be self-reliant and unafraid to voice their true feelings even if those go against conventional wisdom. [http://www.answers.com]

A definition of Community:

A community is defined as a group of people having common interests. A group viewed as forming a distinct segment of society, such as “artist’s community”.

A Thought of the Art Spirit and Community

Excerpt “The Artist Spirit” by Robert Henri, Letters Concerning Prizes and Medals, page 214-216

…”I should like every community to have a will of its own; to be distinctly like itself; to make its own mistakes; to make its own discoveries; to choose its own pictures, hang them up and then take them down again when they no longer like them, and replace them with such others as they have come to like.

To visit such a community would be interesting, would shock or please, would shake us up a bit, and cause revaluation.

There would be some things in that place which one could not find in any other place. We might like or we might not like it, but the place would have its effect on us. It would not be negative.

An artist must educate himself, he cannot be educated, he must test things out as they apply to himself; his life is one long investigation of things and his own reaction to them. If he is to be interesting to us it is because he renders a very personal account. If a community is to be interesting to outsiders or have any sort of an existence, any sort of a good time, it must do likewise.

When a community starts afresh in matters of art, it takes on a big job. Not an outside job, but an inside job, and one that can be most enjoyable and most profitable.

The greatest honor you can do an artist is to buy his picture and hang it up in your gallery.”

Definiton of Common Ground:

Defining what “common ground” is described as an area of agreement: something mutually agreed upon, especially as a basis for negotiation

My inspiration for Creativity, Community and Common Ground:

We in the U.S.A. have become a culture of complacency, sameness and status quo. Where are the Einsteins, DaVincis, Renoirs and Picassos in the Twenty-first century? Where are those who think “outside the box”, who dare to go beyond the mundane? As an art therapist, I continue to see our young people contained, redirected and admonished for being creative problem solvers. Instead we ask them to be less creative and stop their sense of wonder and exploration. When this same youth are given opportunities to express ideas through the visual arts the results can be amazing, yielding a greater sense self and self-esteem, flexibility of though, acceptance and tolerance within themselves and others. This has been witnessed time and time again.

We, as a culture, are starved for the visual arts; it’s where we go when we are looking answers, contemplating decisions, (how many doodles do, you, draw while on the phone?). As humans most of us are given the first language of “images and sounds” at birth; no verbalization, that’s taught later. We explored our environments through our eyes and with our parents voices; it’s curious how this is forgotten and not cultivated as we age. Instead the written word, the physical ability, mathematical reasoning, and the scientific ciphering become “the valued”, while the ability to use imagination, innovation, problem solving, in visual and auditory ways, becomes secondary, to the point of negating it in our learning. Our educational systems have dismissed the creative process as the budget “axes” continue to fall, instead, what we need to ask, if “art” was food and needed to sustain us, would we choose to go without? By starving our youth from exploring, contemplating, testing, and challenging themselves, we lose the opportunity to teach them how to expressing themselves in healthy, productive ways; as we have done since birth. Instead we have stunted their growth thereby stunting the growth of our nation.

Our communities are aware of this starvation which has inspired them to move into “self-help mode” by creating art centers where the fires of creativity can be stoked, nurtured and enjoyed by everyone. By bringing “creativity” and “community” together we can satisfy a hunger that can be beneficial to all who participate. The best thing we can do for the arts is to support the community art centers, by supporting these art centers; we create interest in our communities, activities for families and opportunities for all creative thinkers. I’m inspired, are you?