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March 2017

Try this experiment: Ask a group of young children if they would consider themselves to be “creative.” Chances are, you’ll get a lot of positive feedback. Now ask the same question to a group of adults. The results may look drastically different. 

Teenage years can be a daunting time for anyone. For youth struggling with family issues, homelessness or other traumas, there are even more challenges to consider. To help struggling youth, Catherine O’Neill Thorn founded the Arts from Ashes (AfA) program in Denver in 2003. Having worked primarily in juvenile detentions centers, treatment centers and schools – including conducting post-trauma workshops at Columbine High School – O’Neill Thorn developed a curriculum designed to empower struggling students to express their creative genius.

When you first step into “The House of Eternal Return,” a permanent exhibition created by Santa Fe, N.M., art collective Meow Wolf, you’ll find yourself at the front steps of the Selig family home. The exhibition, which uses more than 100 artists to create a fully interactive experience inside of an old bowling alley, transports you into a different world – a multiverse even – that begins in a front yard.

Science has always provided a basis for my artwork, but it wasn’t until a few years ago that the connection between the expressive and scientific became as obvious as it is today. The “Still Life” series began after I was granted an opportunity to tour the back-storage zoology collections of the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. The vastness of the collection sparked my interests in biodiversity, and creating a series of paintings that embodied that idea became deeply ingrained in my mind.

What happens when a library takes over a massive, empty city building and invites artists to reimagine its space? The Bubbler, a raw arts incubator run by the Madison Public Library in Wisconsin, recently found out when it hosted “Municipal,” a recent all-ages, hands-on exhibition hosted on one day – Dec. 10, 2016.  

Anyone who’s watched a dog find a way of sneaking into the treat container when they think no one is looking can attest: animals can definitely be clever. But can they be creative? 

Cognitive scientists distinguish between creativity and innovation in animals, but cases of both have been observed. Creativity can occur in one animal, wherein that animal receives personal pleasure from their creative activity. Innovation, on the other hand, has a social impact - the behavior changes the way a group of animals thinks or act. 

Creativity isn’t just a matter of enjoying artistic passions. The root of creative thinking and our human appreciation of abstract concepts is buried deep within our brains. Neuroscience is a complex field, and with advancing studies and technology, scientists are frequently discovering more about the neurological connections and chemicals associated with creative thinking and our human responses to it.