Okay, how do I describe what just happened at the Museum? Well, the words that pop in my head aren’t quite right…magical (too corny), profound (too academic), engaging (too general), serious (too, well, serious), so I will use the word my six-year-old favors when something has “rocked his world.” What happened at the museum was AWESOME!
The Creativity Summit was three jam-packed days (October 14, 15 and 18) dedicated to focusing on, fostering and championing creativity in central Ohio. In addition, it was the débutante ball for our new Center for Creativity. From an institutional standpoint, the summit was a great success—over 1,000 people attended nine different events. Workshops united teens and seniors, attorneys and teachers, and advocates with skeptics. The viewpoints that emerged were thoughtful, funny, respectful, and poignant. What more could an art museum that values creativity and conversation ask for?
But for me, it went much deeper than the institutional impact. The summit had an effect on me personally. There are so many moments that I will treasure. Here are some of my favorites:
- During the Creativity in Your Life panel discussion, moderator Artie Isaac asked the panelists about creativity and school. The genius Liz Lessner (CEO of the Betty’s Family of Restaurants and a certain hero of mine) admitted that she struggled in school. The school system didn’t know what to do with her – how true that rings with so many of us!
- My favorite question during the Imagination Conversation was in response to Express CEO Michael Weiss’s comment that creativity needs purpose. Someone in the audience asked, “Isn’t there value in purposelessness?!” After Michael and Cleveland Clinic Innovations Executive Director Chris Coburn made an amazing case for purposeful creativity, it was Project Runway finalist Althea Harper who said that sometimes she self-imposes insanely purposeless projects (like drawing MANGA) that ironically manifest into great moments of purposeful creativity! The panel was almost poetic in the way they wove their viewpoints together.
- I remember the audible gasp when Peter Cunningham, Assistant Secretary for Communications and Outreach at the U.S. Department of Education, said that by some estimates 50% of our current teachers will retire in the next ten years. The pressure is on the next generation of teachers to foster the creativity our children will need to succeed.
- During the Creative Educator keynote address, speaker George Szekely posed the question, what do you collect? How do we share with our students the things that bring us wonder and awe? I was a former student of Dr. Szekely’s and I realized that he had asked me that question nearly twenty years ago and empowered me to hold onto and grow my View-Master slide and Thermos collections (among others—though I didn’t need much encouragement!) Now, maybe the art museum has become the place where I share what is wondrous to me.
- I ran into a co-worker who had just left screenwriter, director, and professor Antwone Fisher’s breakout session, during which he told his life story. She point blank said, “He just changed my life! His stories made me cry but his message has me reflecting on what imprint I will leave behind.” Her sincerity has triggered my own self reflection – talk about a ripple effect!
- At the Creative Docent, Delaware Art Museum Executive Director Danielle Rice had drawn the most brilliant PowerPoint slide. The image captured all the “messages” a painting has to tell, like the artist’s biography, but juxtaposed the painting with the thoughts swimming inside the head of a thirteen-year-old boy. The creative task of the docent is to facilitate meaning between his world and the painting’s world.
I will stop here. Click here to watch these sessions yourself. Did you attend? Please add your memories and comments here below. Together we can not only reflect and grow, but also create a map for the ways an art museum can and should nourish our creativity.
Art Speaks. Join the Conversation.
CMA Director of Education