To help practitioners and scholars address the real-world challenges of creative work. We conduct rigorous analyses of case studies in concert with other methodologies to re-appropriate the concept of “creativity” and align it with lived experience. Through this research we develop a framework for participatory creativity and new tools for practitioners. We then make the research and other resources available to people participating in creative work and raise new questions for other scholars in the field of creativity research.
The Participatory Creativity Lab investigates how people participate in change. This participation involves constantly shifting social, technological, political, and conceptual dynamics. It is not something people do alone. Many people in different roles are involved, often over long periods of time. The material and natural worlds also play crucial roles. Creative work literally takes form through interactions with paint, paper, musical instruments, lab equipment, culinary ingredients, information technologies, and on and on. The ideas then spread and inspire others through books, journals, museums, online posts, etc.
For people participating in creative work, their commitment requires courage, persistence, luck, and knowledge. Depending on what roles they take up, the work can require extraordinary amounts of energy and sacrifice. The result – new idea or practice – may solve the problem at hand but will also produce unexpected consequences. That is the nature of complex systems. Creativity is, thus, socially, materially, and temporally distributed – a complex, emergent process. And hard work.
These principles are the foundation of the participatory creativity framework, which has been established by multiple scholars over the last decade. Drawing from systems, developmental, sociocultural, and distributed views of creativity, the participatory framework tries to provide a realistic and practical perspective from which to consider whether, when, how and why to engage in creative work.
One branch of our research includes detailed case studies of how people contribute to creative work as part of larger, complex, social and material systems. By studying the work of well-known people from a wide range of domains and times, we reconsider the traditional, unrealistic assumptions of extreme individualism, exploring, instead, how we can think about real-world examples of creativity as participatory processes. Building off the case study methods that Howard Gruber and his associates designed for studying creative development across lifespan, we apply similar, rigorous, triangulated methods in applying the participatory framework. The stories are thought-provoking and relevant to creative work in today’s, complex world. Some raise difficult questions, and many are inspiring.
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Participatory Creativity Lab
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