Imagination: It’s a Muscle, Too

I know I’ve referenced this gentleman before, but I find that Marvin Bartel (a professor of art in the United States) has quite a lot of excellent ideas for teaching creativity in schools.

Teaching creativity, you say?  Is that even possible, you say?

Why yes!  Yes indeed it is!

Something I noticed when I was in school – especially in art class – was that when teachers were going through their lessons, they often wanted us to be creative, but they never really taught us how to go about it.  I didn’t mind as much, because I am a creative person.  But even I had trouble coming up with things to draw or write or paint, and when confronted with that problem from me and my classmates, teachers would often simply say, “Well…I’m sure you’ll think of something.”

…Which was not as helpful as I would have liked, incidentally.

Until I read Marvin’s article,“The Secrets of Generating Art Ideas: an Inside Out Art Curriculum,” I don’t think I realized that this was actually a problem for a lot of people.  A lot of students have trouble coming up with ideas for art projects and writing.  One of the ways Mr. Bartel suggests teachers combat this is through the use of the Conversation Game.  If you were in my EAES 201 class, you played this game with me, but I just wanted to elaborate on it a little further.

The rules are simple.  You divide your class into groups, and make sure that each member of the group has a piece of paper and a pencil.  Then they go around to every member of the group and ask each other ‘getting to know you’ questions.  Each student writes down each question and their answer to it, but they don’t have to share their answers unless they want to.  After a certain amount of time has passed, the groups stop and tell everyone in the class what their questions were.  For every question they have that no other group has, the students get a point, and the group with the most points wins.

However, this is not a game you play once and then forget about.  This is a game you keep playing and keep playing, and over time the questions will evolve from the level of, “What is your favourite television show?” to  the level of, “If you could choose any superpower, what would it be?” As time goes on, students learn to ask critical, insightful, creative questions, and they can use those questions or their answers as inspiration for writing, for art projects, for drama – essentially any creative exercise.

I like the idea of being able to teach creativity and develop that skill like a muscle, through constant use.  How about you?

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RiP: A Remix Manifesto

Based on this documentary, I am going to answer this question from the study guide:

Do you think you can argue your creativity when it’s based on another artist’s work?

 

I would like to start off by saying that…people have overcomplicated this issue so much more than is necessary.  Well – I say people, but I mean corporations.  As far as I’m concerned, creative copyright should not extend to anyone who did not actually create something.  If it’s not yours, dear lord – just let it go.  It doesn’t belong to you.

But I digress.

I believe that you can argue your creativity even if it is based on another artist’s work – to a certain extent.  Yes, many forms of art and creative media are based on works from the past.  Artists learn their trade by watching other artists, picking up bits and pieces of what they like from everywhere.  That is only natural. Before I could draw, I traced pictures from other artists.  Then I stopped tracing and started simply looking at the way they drew forms and objects.  Even now, when I create only my own artwork, it would be a lie to say that the style I have now is completely my own and not cobbled together from a hundred different sources.  Somewhere along the line, everyone who creates something has looked at something or someone else and thought, “Hey…I like that.  That gives me an idea.”

But then, of course, I am reminded of something Mark Twain said:

“Don’t go around saying the world owes you a living.  The world doesn’t owe you anything.  It was here first.”

The world does not owe you anything – including the tools you seem to think are necessary to your creative art.  There is no law that says your creative license is without bound.  Nowhere is it written that you or anyone else has the RIGHT to create whatever you want from any source at any time, no matter the situation.  I believe that there are certain copyright laws that should be upheld, especially if the artist is still alive and/or has asked that their material not be used.  I know for certain that if I found out someone had taken a piece of my writing or my artwork and used it without asking my permission or giving me credit, I would be upset.  There is such a thing as showing respect to other artists.

Of course, I think most people – including the makers of the Remix Manifesto – understand that some things should not be part of public domain – at least while the artist is alive.  This issue only really seems to get complicated when corporations claim the copyrights to things they had no hand in creating, and then expect everyone to treat them with the same respect due to the original creator.  In that case, I would say the corporations are being as disrespectful, if not more so, than someone who would take an artist’s work without giving them credit.  They have taken something that was created as a work of art and turned it into a tool for obtaining money for themselves, and as far as I am concerned, that is theft and a betrayal of the public trust.

In the end, I think what it comes down to is this: be respectful.  If the artist is still alive and they don’t want their material used, don’t use it.  If they ask that you give them credit, give them credit.  Even if they aren’t alive, or they don’t ask for credit, give it to them anyways, because that’s the polite thing to do.

And as far as corporations are concerned, well…as much as the past might try to control the future, it can’t hang on forever.  Right now our future looks like it will be less free, but just think – someday the people of our generation are going to be the ones running the corporations.

Nothing lasts forever.  Not even copyright.