Handbook of Research on Creativity
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Handbook of Research on Creativity

Edited by Kerry Thomas and Janet Chan

In this timely work, creativity is not defined by an ideal, rather it encompasses a range of theories, functions, characteristics, processes, products and practices that are associated with the generation of novel and useful outcomes suited to particular social, cultural and political contexts. Chapters present original research by international scholars from a wide range of disciplines including history, sociology, psychology, philosophy, cultural studies, education, economics and interdisciplinary studies. Their research investigates creativity in diverse fields including art, creative industries, aesthetics, design, new media, music, arts education, science, engineering and technology.
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Chapter 24: The ‘illusio’ of the creative life: case studies of emerging artists

Kerry Thomas


Art students, repeating the ‘truth’ of Romantic and Modernist traditions, frequently take the view that their creative process is intuitive and non-predetermined and stems from a natural talent or their psychology (Brown and Thomas, 1999). This ‘truth’ is repeatedly legitimated institutionally in approaches to assessment in university art school programs that ostensibly reward students for their capacity for self-direction and problem solving (Ecker, 1966). Lecturers search for evidence in the students’ documentation and self-reports of the creative process including their references to concepts that motivate their artworks, methods, techniques, and influencing theory and its coherence with the artworks they make. Yet, explanations about what art students know about how to proceed are far from exhausted by external or means-ends explanations (Brown, 2005). This chapter examines how two art students, as different cases of what is possible, seek to reconcile their obligations to the contradictory demands of the ‘truth’ of the creative process in the institutional constraints of the art school, thereby building their investment in the creative life.

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