Dancing in the Moment: Unlocking Your Creative Flow

Prof. Adele Bass
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Most people experience creative block at some point in their lives. For a variety of reasons, most of us have been paralyzed or unable to move forward. During these times it's difficult to access the resources to solve a particularly meaty problem or muster the emotional reserves to weather a difficult personal storm.

Alice Miller, the noted psychoanalyst, explores the relationship of expressive painting to creativity in her book, "Pictures of a Childhood". She claims that she could never have written her books without the freedom she gained through painting. "Five years after I began to paint, I started writing my books, which never would have been possible without the inner liberation painting had given me." Her paintings are fierce and powerful abstracts expressing her childhood pain. Each one is unique as well as beautiful. Ms. Miller claims that creating a visual expression of her pain unlocked her creative writing abilities.

The relationship between creativity and emotional pain has been established. And the relationship of the creative process to other creative processes reveals a stiking similarity. Whether one is writing a novel or working on a painting, the process is similar. It is the expression that changes. It's the reason that painting can unlock a writer's block.

Experiments by the author revealed that creative paralysis in almost any area could be unblocked through a combination of self-awareness exercises combined with visual expression. "Process art" requires rapid, intuitive working methods to access the unconscious mind. The visual results often reveal startling new issues and feelings that the "artist" was unaware of before this class.

The first workshop tested the hypothesis that this process would open pathways to creativity. Labeled a one-day adventure for anyone seeking to be more spontaneous and creative, both in and outside the studio, the class attracted a wide range of participants ranging in age from sixteen to ninety. Though the majority of the class was female, the lone teenage male lent an interesting perspective to the class exercises. Team-taught by the author and Leslie Marcus, a professional life coach, this experiential workshop alternated between exercises to explore one’s inner wisdom and artmaking, using mixed media. The results were both beautiful and revealing. The artwork often revealed issues and feelings that the "artist" was unaware of before. Participants developed greater access to their own creative resources and an ability to find a unique “voice” to use in any area of life.

The success of the first class led to the offeriing of a two-day version to explore more deeply the ideas uncovered in the first class. The new enrollment already includes some men. The results of both classes will be recorded in a series of slides to accompany my presentation.

Keywords: Creative, Art, Psychology, Block, Creative Block, Process Art, Coaching
Stream: Sociology and Geography, Psychology, Cognitive Science and the Behavioural Sciences, Media and Communications, Education and Social Welfare, Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Gender
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: Dancing in the Moment

Prof. Adele Bass

Professor, Foundation Department, ArtCenter College of Design
Pasadena, California, USA

Adele Bass has been a respected professor at the ArtCenter College of Design for the last 16 years while maintaining a successful Communication Design company. Ms. Bass studied psychology at the State University of New York at Binghamton. She worked in a Manhattan Advertising agency and trained as an Executive in the retail trade in Boston before she decided to pursue a career in Art. In her last semester at the ArtCenter College of DesInign in Pasadena, she established AB&Co.Design. She's been doing award-winning work for clients such as The Los Angeles Zoo and the City of Pasadena since 1981. She joined the faculty at ArtCenter in 1990 specializing in teaching the study of letterform and logo design. In 2001, Ms. Bass earned an MFA in Media design and has added website development to her diverse business offerings.

In her free time, Ms. Bass makes process art whenever possible. She owns a 100 year old letterpress to enable her to put her own words in print. Typography and psychology are her passions but as a "Big Sister" to a 10 year old boy, she reserves her love for her "Little Brother", David.

Ref: I06P0075