It is only fitting that the person to talk to us about where creativity hides is highly successful writer Amy Tan, author of such classics as The Kitchen God’s Wife. As a novelist, she certainly knows a thing or two about creativity and finding it, but as she talks about it in TED, it seems to prove just as elusive to her as to any one of us.
Amy Tan begins by describing creativity as turning nothing into something or “the value of nothing” and its role in how we create. The creative process, while universal, can look different when you look at it through different artists because it presents itself uniquely to every person, in different shapes and sizes. It can take form through nature or nurture or a mix of both. It can be sparked by such things as frustration or a near death experience or something as simple as being different from the other people we meet.
Through history, the most artistic and creative people seem to draw their creativity from stress or some negative pressure. For Van Gogh, psychosis or what Amy Tan calls the psychotic muse seemed to work very well, at least in inducing a need to create, producing from the artist beautiful paintings that stand the test of time. In other artists such as Proust, Poe, Styron, and most notably Syliva Plath who had several attempts in suicide before finally succeeding, depression had a way of propelling them to create and oh how they created. For these illustrious artists, creativity was hiding in these dark muses.
For Amy Tan, creativity hides in every nook and cranny of life. She had her own version of negative pressure as well when, while she was still a young girl, her father and her brother passed away after tumors were found in their brains. This early presentation of death in her life, so close to her, raised questions that a young girl would normally not ask.
To Our Students:
We encourage all of our students to “turn nothing into something” and what better way to spend your summer than to explore your creative side. Creativity can take many forms and we see it first hand every year with the many different signature projects that our students create. These projects not only directly benefit their local communities, they help the students grow as a person. Here’s the best part: colleges love to see students who think outside the box. So what are you waiting for? Go explore your own creative process this summer!