Monday, March 29, 2010

Creativity and successful brain aging: Going with the flow

[23 March 2010 - Psychology Today] Creativity and flexible attitudes can promote healthy brain aging ... Scholars have suspected for decades that the aging process is kinder to the creative, active, and flexible mind. Now there is more convincing evidence than ever before to support the importance of keeping an open mind to helping your brain age successfully. In a recent scientific article, psychologists Susan McFadden and Anne Basting point out that "What's good for the person is usually good for the brain." They note that the more diverse the older person's social network, the greater the resistance to infection and disease, and the less the cognitive decline. It's not just the plain fact that you have many friends, but that if you have many friends, the chances are good that you are engaging in a variety of cognitively enriching activities. Even Facebook offers cognitive stimulation. Sure, you may get fed up with the 29th comment on the day's weather from people complaining it's too cold or reveling that it's a warm spring day, but even this virtual set of friendship connections is keeping your brain cells if not your fingers clicking. More

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Optimism Boosts the Immune System

[23 March 2010 - Association for Psychological Science] Feeling better about the future might help you feel better for real. In a new study, psychological scientists Suzanne Segerstrom of the University of Kentucky and Sandra Sephton of the University of Louisville studied how law students' expectations about the future affected their immune response. Their conclusions: Optimism may be good for your health. More

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Creativity in the Classroom Workshop at The Aldrich - Monday

A creative education workshop for teachers, administrators, and parents ... with Facilitator Steven Dahlberg, Director, International Centre for Creativity and Imagination
MONDAY, MARCH 22, 2010, 4:00-6:30 P.M.
The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum
258 Main Street, Ridgefield, CT 06877
$30 (members)/$35 (non-members)
.2 CEUs available
Register online:

Creativity includes -- and is more than -- the arts. Creative thinking is a twenty-first century skill that applies to all subjects, all grade levels, and all ages. It is a skill that prepares students and adults for a rapidly changing world, where complex problems do not have pre-defined, easy solutions. Creativity involves creative and critical thinking skills that can be taught, practiced, and applied in all curriculums. In this workshop, you will:

  • Explore what creativity is, who has it, and how to unleash more of it.
  • Think about thinking ... and learn how to think in new ways.
  • Learn and practice applied creative thinking skills.
  • Discover styles and types of creative thinking within the creative process.
  • Connect creativity to the classroom.

Steven Dahlberg is head of the International Centre for Creativity and Imagination, which is dedicated to applying creativity to improve the well-being of individuals, organizations and communities. He works with the Public and Community Engagement program at the University of Connecticut, where he teaches the "Creativity + Social Change" course. More info at:

For registration and further information please contact:
Suzanne Ryan
Museum Educator
The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum
seryan @ aldrichart . org

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Ken Robinson ... Again on Creativity and Education

[15 March 2010 - The Bonnie Hunt Show] Sir Ken Robinson shares what isn't working with our teaching system in schools.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Carnegie Mellon research provides insight into brain's decision-making process

[11 March 2010 - EurekAlert! - Carnegie Mellon University] Replaying recent events in the area of the brain called the hippocampus may have less to do with creating long-term memories, as scientists have suspected, than with an active decision-making process, suggests a new study by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Minnesota Medical School. ... "Based on these observations, we have to rethink what is the role of replay for memory," wrote neuroscientists Dori Derdikman and May-Britt Moser of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in a commentary also published in the March 11 issue of Neuron. They suggested that replay in the hippocampus may prove to have a dual role -- both for memory consolidation and for making cognitive maps of the environment. More

Creative Leadership Capacities ... From the Connecting Creative Communities Summit

Steven Dahlberg, Director, International Centre for Creativity and Imagination, asks in the "Building Your Capacity: Creative Leadership in the Creative Sector" session at the Connecting Creative Communities Summit on March 11, 2010:
Creativity matters in all aspects of society, work and life. And it matters for how we lead. Creativity motivates people to do what they love and are good at. Likewise, as Teresa Amabile, director of research at Harvard Business School, and one of the leading creativity researchers, says: “When people are doing work that they love and they’re allowed to deeply engage in it – and when the work itself is valued and recognized – then creativity will flourish. Even in tough times.” Yet, sometimes our organizational cultures and practices get in the way of allowing creativity to be cultivated and expressed. Creativity also engages employees in meaningful work. Engaged employees lead to engaged audiences, customers and clients in our organizations. The Gallup Organization says: “Engaged employees [– that is, those who work with passion and feel a profound connection to their organization –] are far more likely to suggest or develop creative ways to improve management processes. They’re also far more likely to find creative ways to solve customer problems or to involve their customers in creative service innovations. Leaders who want to drive growth through innovation should first create an environment that welcomes new ideas – and should make engaging employees a key component of that strategy.” Gallup has also found that 71% of the workforce is not-engaged or actively disengaged in their work, meaning 71% of the workforce is either under performing or actively undermining their work. Therefore, we must ask ourselves:
  1. What do we do to help employees intentionally develop and apply their creativity?
  2. What does “creativity” mean to me as a leadership practice?
  3. How do we develop creativity in our employees … or, how do we help our employees imagine “what if, what else, why not”? What processes do we use to harness and apply more creative thinking, imagination and ideas in our organization? How do we engage our employees? How do we help them connect to their purpose? How do we motivate our employees to do what they love and are good at?
  4. What gets in the way and blocks creativity WITHIN our organization and its employees? What deliberate actions do we take to create a culture for creativity WITHIN our organization?

Monday, March 01, 2010

Danbury Students Collaborate With Artist for Aldrich Museum Installation

More than 320 students and staff at King Street Intermediate School in Danbury, Connecticut, recently fingerprinted themselves to begin a collaboratively produced art installation for The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum in Ridgefield, Connecticut.

Artist Sandy Garnett is working with KSI students and their art teacher, Doreen Cherniske Colonna, to incorporate an individual fingerprint contribution from each student and staff member into a final piece. Garnett, who is based in Norwalk, Connecticut, has been producing fingerprint-based artwork himself for more than 20 years. Through his Fingerprint Project, he explores contemporary identity through sculpted and painted fingerprints, human silhouettes and signatures.

"The Fingerprint Project is one of the cornerstones of my professional fine art career," Garnett says. "I have collected thousands of fingerprints from which I have made hundreds of fine art objects during the past several decades. I have always been interested in a large group Fingerprint Portrait installation, so the project at King Street Intermediate School has been an exciting project for me."

Earlier this month, Garnett led several groups of 60 to 150 students in creating their own inked fingerprints on paper. Next, Colonna will enlarge each student's favorite print into an abstract image, which the students will then transfer onto small pieces of Plexiglas. Garnett will combine these more than 300 pieces into a single installation, which The Aldrich will exhibit in early April as part of its DrawOn! project.

The purpose of DrawOn! is "to bring people together through something as basic as drawing, while at the same time fostering new and imaginative ways to draw." The public is encouraged to participate in DrawOn! events scheduled throughout Connecticut and beyond, from March 27 to April 10, with a culminating family event on April 10. For more information, visit

"I love the collaborative aspect of this project," says Colonna. "Between the kids, the professional artist and the museum. I also love that EVERY student is included. It is a true 'fingerprint' of our school."

This is the second year in a row that Colonna has been invited to exhibit her KSI students' artwork as part of DrawOn! at The Aldrich. Last year, students not only created works on various shapes of cardboard -- thinking beyond the usual rectangle "box" they often draw on -- they also drew on two teachers who wore full-body white Tyvek suits.

"This project has been fun because I never did anything like this in my life," said one KSI student while working with Garnett earlier this month. A student last year said, "I liked DrawOn! the most because it made me think you can make art on anything."

Garnett is a self-taught, multidisciplinary artist who has sold more than $1.8 million of artwork. He also writes, illustrates, sings and records. His children's books have recently been published, and an independent film producer put Garnett's first written and recorded song, "Busted Wing," in a film about climate change.

"It is important to have visiting artists like Sandy," says Colonna. "The kids get to see someone who went through school and came out the other end still doing what they feel passionate about -- and making a living at it.

"It is also important for those kids who have tremendous talents in areas that are not always as highly valued in education nor reflected in standard test areas. These students see that their talents are not a waste, that they can use those talents, and that they should not give up or let anyone take those talents away from them."

DrawOn! is a community-based project of The Aldrich, which encourages everyone -- not just artists -- to engage in drawing. On anything. With anything. This practice is not so much about drawing a "perfect piece," or about the final product, but about the creative process itself. It is also about the community building that happens when people draw and create together. It is a fun and playful activity that can help people rediscover their creative talents.

The King Street Intermediate School Fingerprint Project for DrawOn! is also part of an on-going initiative to integrate more creativity into the classroom at KSI. The staff is working with Steven Dahlberg, head of the International Centre for Creativity and Imagination, to help teachers both teach for more creativity and teach more creatively.

"The Fingerprint Project is great example of how creativity engages both students and staff in meaningful work," says Dahlberg. "Students were invited to create something unique and original and will have the rare opportunity to see their creative expressions displayed publicly in a major art institution. This is inspiring, not only to the students, but to their teachers and parents and the community, as well."

The public can hear more about this project and DrawOn! and meet Garnett, Colonna and Dahlberg at Creativity Networking at The Silo at Hunt Hill Farm in New Milford, Connecticut, from 2 to 3:30 p.m., Sunday, March 14. Find out more at

Visual/Performing Artists Health Issues Conference - April 14 in Connecticut

The International Centre for Creativity and Imagination is pleased to be one of more than 100 arts, health, educational and advocacy organizations co-sponsoring the Artists in Transition conference on April 11, 2010, in Danbury, Connecticut. Additional co-sponsors include Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation, Andy Warhol Foundation, Actors Fund of America, Chamber Music America, and Merce Cunningham Foundation, among others. Steven Dahlberg will be leading a session (I-9) on "Creative Thinking, Aging and Living: Engaging our Strengths, Living our Purpose." This session will take participants on a journey through creativity, more specifically the creative thinking process, which engages our strengths and purpose. You will explore insights about positivity, strengths, adaptability, and neuroscience in tapping into and harnessing one's creativity in living more meaningful lives.

[1 March 2010 - Artists in Transition] Artists in Transition -- an organization that works with artists and performers facing physical and/or mental health issues that affect their ability to create or perform -- is having its inaugural conference on Sunday, April 11, 2010, from 12:00 to 5:00 p.m. at Western Connecticut State University in Danbury, Connecticut, USA.

The conference is being co-sponsored by more than 100 local, state and national arts, health, educational and advocacy organizations.

Inspiring architect/sculptor Tom Luckey will keynote the event and awesome musical entertainment will be provided by Our Time Theatre. There will be outstanding networking opportunities and 15 information-packed breakout sessions on diverse subjects such as healthcare, maximizing employment potential, grant writing, creativity and purpose, etc. Speakers will include artists and performers who themselves are dealing with health and disability issues and making their art and lives a creative force.

Sign up now to be part of this informational and inspirational event. Check out the event Web site for complete conference and registration information (REGISTRATION CLOSES MARCH 13).