Can we add Creative to Expression?

By Ellen Lovell
In contemplating "expressive life," suggested by Bill Ivey, I like his folklorist's approach; it allows for a wider range of expressions than stereotypical (or uninformed) definitions of "art." We express ourselves many ways in a culture -- and these expression include things like foodways, dress, celebrations, family and group communications and others that would be categorized in a more broadly anthropological definition of culture. It seems to me that when we talk about cultural participation, including what we want to support and promote as a society, we need to talk about the what: what are we expressing and does it go beyond ordinary discourse and ways we act in the every day that reflect our cultural heritage?

I had a dark thought. I think the Supreme Court just complicated the idea of expressive life. If corporate contributions to political campaigns are now to be protected as part of our freedom of expression, what exactly qualifies as "expressive life?"

I keep coming back to creativity, to the ability to make what is new, to combine previously disparate elements, to communicate something previously unrecognized. And yes, it happens in the syntheses, in the discoveries of science too. Our case for the participation of all in creative expression would be strengthened by understanding how this occurs. Expression must be qualified with "creative."

January 26, 2010 2:05 PM | | Comments (1) |


Consider that 'Creativity' is a given; it is common and shared with all life forms.

'Imagination' is uniquely human and essential to empathy, understanding, diplomacy, cooperation. . . .

Artists develop the imagination to envision and share experience and knowledge . . . . perhaps with depth and clarity of understanding.

'Creativity' was the be all and end all in the arts and educaiton in the 1950s. 'Development' and 'refinement' have lagged behind the focus on 'creativity' as a criteria for advancement, expression and innovation required in productivity and advancement of cultural arenas --in education, scientific research, market productivity and exchange --in addition to the work in many arts disciplines, etc.

Creativity and a unique or personal style are givens, whereas efforts in the development of skills as well as of the imagination to sympathize, to delineate clearly, to propose effectively could be much more fully supported and nourished in arts programs and all areas of education leading to responsive cultural development.

An 'expressive life' depends upon 'imagination' and 'development' . . . . and to nourish both should aid immeasurably as we together realize the exchange which makes up our world heritage.


This Conversation Are the terms "Art" and "Culture" tough enough to frame a public policy carve-out for the 21st century? Are the old familiar words, weighted with multiple meanings and unhelpful preconceptions, simply no longer useful in analysis or advocacy? In his book, Arts, Inc., Bill Ivey advances "Expressive Life" as a new, expanded policy arena - a frame sufficiently robust to stand proudly beside "Work Life," "Family Life," "Education," and "The Environment." Is Ivey on the right track, or more

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