As part of the unit CCA1103 – Creativity: History, Theory, and Practice we are required to explore the theme of the unit in the form of a creative project. The subject and intent of the project was left completely open in regards to discipline and content. The only requirement being that it “Acts as a summary of your reflections and demonstrates a creative approach to your discipline”.
For my creative project I knew very early on I wanted to create a work that dealt with creativity directly and was at its core. I also wanted it to be personal and talk about my own creativity. So with this in mind over the last ten weeks I toiled with this concept to produced my final work for this creative project; a self-portrait of my creative self.
This portrait, for me embodies my experience and my personal journey through this unit. I have always known deep down I was creative but didn’t really understand why. What makes me stand out from the thousands who considered themselves uncreative? I had no understanding at the start of this unit as to who my creative self was or what he looked like. Now a mere ten weeks later I feel I have finally met him and look forward to really getting to know him. It is this journey of discovery that I really want to focus on as it is the driving force behind my creative project.
I chose to use an existing photo and not take a new one because I wanted to ground the portrait in the familiar. I used a photo I took of myself in Darwin modelling a croc tooth necklace I made which hints nicely at the presence of my creative self. Using this as the foundation for my work I looked into ways to bring my creative self to life. Drawing inspiration from the theory that the right side of the brain is the creative side and Freud’s theory that the mind’s primary state was creative and childlike I began looking at children’s drawings. I decided to push my technical skills and venture into digital drawing. I had purchased a drawing tablet some time ago but had seen very little use. This unfamiliarity, I feel, really complimented the project. It was a parallel to what I was experiencing as I learnt about my creative process. I chose the crayon tool which seemed to be the medium of choice for children and stuck to common colours. Getting the right balance between recognisable and childlike proved difficult but I got there in the end.
Since this unit is about creativity I wanted my project to deal with it directly, a way to bring what I have learned into a cohesive whole. If someone was to ask me what I learned in this unit I want to be able to refer them to this work as an explanation. As the visual arts are my discipline I also wanted it to have those characteristics but at the same time not be restricted by them. Looking for ways to represent creativity was proving difficult and I found myself floundering. Turning to my peers for advice I was able to reconnect to a state of flow, which enabled me to step back and look at my work with fresh eyes. It was during this period when I decided to revise some of the theories of creativity I had, as Harman, J (2011) calls it a breakthrough moment. The next step was verification and seeing if this new direction was viable.
In my research into ways to visually represent creativity I came across two interesting theories. The first was based on the research of Roger W Sperry. Sperry was one of the first scientists to look into the lateralization of brain function and observed that certain functions such as logic or creativity could be associated to the left or right side of the brain (Lateralization of brain function, 2011). Or at least these were the broad generalizations that popular psychology has made over the years. A more accurate description would be that these functions could be associated with one hemisphere of the brain but weren’t limited to it. The majority of the brain activity associated with being creative may occur in the right hemisphere but some is still present in the left. The ratio was also dependant on the individual. Which begs the question would an individual who has more of his creative brain activity residing in his right hemisphere be more or less creative than an individual whose activity was spread between the two hemispheres more evenly? However for the purpose of my creative project the theory that creativity could be associated with the right side was what I was interested in.
The second theory of note was Sigmund Freud’s theory on creativity. Freud had a lot of interesting theories but what was of interest to me was what he referred to as the primary and secondary states (Davis, 2004). According to Freud our thinking process could be broken into two different categories; the primary and secondary processes. The primary being a childlike regression where the mind is free, relaxed and able to fantasize without restriction – an ideal environment to be creative. While the secondary is the adultlike way of thinking where reality and logic restrict our thoughts. This was my ‘Eureka’ moment. Creativity and being creative is often about combining two or more separate elements into a singular whole. Depending how successful this combining of elements is determines how creative the outcome is. Already having decided to do a portrait, I now had a position and a style to represent my creative side.
While my creative project probably won’t be a feature hanging at the Art Gallery of Wa I think it served it’s purpose for the unit and was successful in that context. It represents my journey through the unit, my better understanding of the creative process and as a result myself. I have joked on this blog and with other students in person that this unit has a lot in common with therapy. It requires a lot of self-reflection and deep thought which I tried to reflect in this project. As with a lot of contemporary art it probably has more meaning to me, the artist, than the audience. Which typifies my domain as a visual artist instead of a say a graphic artist where the audience’s understanding and response is crucial.
Davis, G. A. (2004). Definitions and Theories. Creativity is forever (pp. 58-73). (5th Ed.). USA: Kendell/Hunt.
Harman, J. (2011) Personal Creative Process: John Harman. http://sandbox.ea.ecu.edu.au/staffuse/mtmcmaho/CCA1103/CCA1103L3/index.html
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