Concepts of Creativity: Actualization and Analysis

Creativity SFAI

This is a site a group of MA and MFA students at SFAI worked on this semester, dealing with the multiple concepts of creativity theory. This is the abstract–enjoy the work from these talented San Francisco artists.


After an entire semester spent studying the concept(s) of creativity, are we any closer to understanding what it is, where it comes from, or how to harness it and use it? It seems as if as soon as we approach an understanding, it slips away. Creativity is such a malleable and elusive concept.

In each of our projects this semester, we tried to approach an aspect of creativity and explore it. Where did our societal context of creativity even come from? Do we possess creative genius or are we visited by genius? The weight of being expected to be creative can be crippling. What would happen to your art if that weight was taken away? If you possessed the freedom to fail, would your art be truer to your thoughts? This would then imply that if we do not feel we are particularly creative at a given point in time, creativity is a trait that could be acquired and refined.

After we have established a context in which we can be creative, how do we create the physical space in which our creativity can flourish? Many of us explored the ideas around how we prepare as part of our creative process. What senses do we have to engage in order to start the creative process? Some of us are highly in tune with our sense of smell, others with taste or hearing. Senses have a huge impact on our mindset, on our culture, on how we bond with those around us to create a sense of community.

Along the way, we encountered many questions. How do we function creatively within the constrains of our systems? What constraints do we have personally, socially, culturally? How can we overcome mental blocks? We all grappled with these problems; whether directly in our content or indirectly through our work. Ultimately, how can we get to (and, more importantly, stay in) that state where divergent thinking comes easily, where we can be exploratory and spontaneous with our ideas and with our art?

I don’t think any of us have that answer. (Sorry.) But we can leave you with a little advice: Listen to your inner dialog; it’s going to tell you a lot about yourself and your work. Listen to it when it tells you to do what you love. It doesn’t take a genius to tell you that you are most open, most in tune, most aware, and most present when you are doing something that you honestly (honestly) enjoy. We all approached this topic of “Creativity” in vastly different ways, and it has shown us that we all understand the world in very different ways. So go do what you do. And explore. Oh, and as hard as it seems, be willing to fail (every once in a while).


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