A creative eye
R. Darden Bradshaw
Associate professor, art education
Ever watch a 4-year-old child playing? A cardboard box becomes a space ship, a store or a school bus. Many adults see the box as a box, or some functional use. I often see cardboard panels for painting. It is less common for me to see the box as a vehicle through which I can explore the world.
Creativity is that ever-present malleable skill we develop in early childhood that seems to be educated out of us in formal schooling. It is valued in early childhood education and is seen through exploration and play. Creativity is fueled by open-ended questions through which we learn there is not a right or wrong answer. Yet, as we grow older, many of us feel we are less and less creative.
Our creative capacity is, as celebrated art educator Elliott Eisner suggests, ever present. Rather, the issue is we do not embrace it as much as the young. Or we are not always cultivating and fostering the creative impulse.
As an art educator, I believe the arts are one vehicle to unlocking our innate creativity. The arts foster spaces in which creativity can thrive, where we envision new ideas, celebrate multiplicities and have experiences we do not have in other spaces. In the arts, we celebrate conditions that foster creativity. These include encountering supportive spaces to take risks (exploring beyond the utilitarian), access to materials and processes that are outside our norm (like a cardboard box), time to play and explore (sitting inside or under the box), and empathy for ourselves as we engage in play. What will your creativity lead the box to be?
Director of grounds maintenance and operations
Coming from a strong background in landscaping, I see the sky as the limit to what can be done in this field. It’s a “no limit” freedom that only money and resources can control. With endless opportunities and natural resources that expand across the world, it is an opportunity to let one’s mind explore outside the box without judgement. What appeals to some may not appeal to others; what may be acceptable to some will not be acceptable to others. Ultimately, someone will always love it and take ownership of it.
Unlike many trades or elements in life, this is a field of dreams that always has a different end result. There are no two identical landscapes. Our materials, although mass planted or produced but similar in characteristics and biology, are always slightly different from each other and can be beautiful in large mass groupings and equally as beautiful in a small petite placement.
Mindless as it may seem to many, something inside all of us sets a standard that satisfies our individual creativity. Landscaping opens many channels in our minds and appeals to many of our senses. Nature gave us some of the most creative and beautiful landscapes in the world. We can only expand on that in a smaller scale using our own creativity to add to the beauty.
Coordinator of marketing and engagement, University Libraries
When creativity is humming, it’s a sensation of pure connection. On my own, creativity feels like clicking a fire hose into place while the ideas flush in — I can barely move pen to paper fast enough.
“When creativity is humming, it’s a sensation of pure connection.”
Creativity strikes when I’m alone; it’s happened more than once by the law school dumpsters on the way to my car after work. That’s where I came up with the event Roeschella, a music-festival themed orientation event at Roesch Library.
But my favorite is when I feel creative with others. Amongst my library colleagues, creativity is the centerpiece of our brainstorming sessions to make the library services, programs, spaces and expertise more widely known. This leads to conversations and the exchange of ideas that is rightfully exciting, loud, vibrant and exhilarating. It feels like we’re at a dinner party, trying to one-up compatriots with the best stories.
I remember our planning meeting for a Mean Girls-themed finals week for fall 2021: “Start trying to make Roesch happen” (a play on the line, “Stop trying to make ‘fetch’ happen”) led into applying the popular movie’s quotes to our signature end-of-semester services, which included cheese fries and a burn book craft.
Creativity drives our goal to surprise, delight, educate and inspire. It all feels like alignment, between us as colleagues and our ideas, and the path to deliver them to the UD community to spark some joy.
Willie Morris IV ’13
Assistant director of education engagement, IACT
At one point, I thought creativity only meant how fresh my trumpet solo was in the Miles Davis chart we were practicing for a jazz concert in college. “Thank goodness I’m a music education major,” I would tell myself. “I can’t imagine working at a desk and adding numbers together like all of the ‘left brain’ majors will be doing for the rest of their lives.”
Fast forward a decade, and here I am — working at a desk, adding numbers. Yet, I feel more creative than ever. Why is that? Turns out that creativity has significantly more applications than what I limited myself to thinking at the ripe age of 20.
As I now understand it, creativity is an approach to solving a problem differently than it’s been solved in the past. The beauty of such a simple definition is that it means you can apply creativity in every single thing you do. Did you reorganize the budgeting spreadsheet so everyone can understand it faster? Pretty creative.
Remember when you drilled a 2x4 under the shoe rack far enough from the edge that you couldn’t see it when walking by, but close enough to the edge that the Roomba doesn’t get trapped underneath anymore? My, my — what creativity.
And yes, 20-year-old Willie, your trumpet solo on “So What” was very creative. But when it comes to defining creativity, next time try to be a little bit more … creative.
NCR Distinguished Professor of Law and Technology
Albert Einstein said, “Creativity is seeing what others see and thinking what no one else ever thought.” Indeed, this notion of originality is today considered the sine qua non of copyright law, and it forms the basis upon which all creative works are legally protected from unlawful appropriation by third parties.
Our founding fathers astutely appreciated how works of creativity manifestly contribute to the moral, intellectual and even spiritual progress of our society, and so they divined a constitutional system that protects the exclusivity of those works in order to spur artists to create.
Think of your favorite book in school — the one that literally changed your life. Mine was Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times …” We used to take for granted that Dickens — and other geniuses who formed our canon of great literature — were appreciated as intellectual heroes from whom we had much to learn.
Today, however, there is an academic and broader cultural movement in our country that questions individual authorship and resists the award of exclusivity for creative works in favor of open fair use, collective creativity and even worse, “cancel culture.”
Such positions are ill-advised because they fail to recognize how the diligence and genius of our artistic heroes has led to the progress of this nation and because they often fall short of the spirit of another integral constitutional mandate — the First Amendment — which assures our ability to opine without fear of retribution on these important issues.