Creativity Deserves to Take Center Stage
Published: Thursday, October 10, 2013
Updated: Thursday, October 10, 2013 23:10
“Oh, I’m not that creative.”
“I could never perform like that.”
“I used to do art in high school, but since I came to college, I haven’t had time.”
I have heard these and related statements from fellow students too many times since my arrival on the Hilltop. Although the Georgetown calendar is riddled with uncontestable demonstrations of student creativity, from Rangila to the senior Studio Art Major show, we as a community tend to prioritize our intellectual achievements and undersell the vitality of the creative community in which we are all participants. Georgetown Day would be arguably incomplete without an appearance from Groove Theory, just as freshman convocation would not have been the same without the convocation choir, and last week’s dedication of Václav Havel’s Place could not have been as beautifully orchestrated without passionate performances from members of the theater community. The most significant moments of our Georgetown experience are punctuated by intense encounters with music, movement, theater and the visual arts. So why do students, in our accounts of ourselves, tend to diminish our creativity and separate it from our intellectual life as Hoyas?
One possible explanation is an unintended and often invisible impact of Georgetown’s culture of intellectual intensity and distinction. As part of a community where you are only as good as your next idea, students may feel that creativity and artistic endeavors are by nature non-analytic and therefore lacking in intellectual stimulation and prestige. This perspective sells the arts and the artists short, because genuine creative expression cannot occur without intellectual engagement.
In an email on the subject of the importance of art in academic subjects at Georgetown, English professor Jennifer Natalya Fink commented, “Art involves not merely being creative but mastering one’s craft, understanding the complex traditions of one’s particular domain and engaging rigorously with contemporary conversations in one’s field. So art is inherently an intellectual endeavor.”
Fink regularly integrates the arts into her curriculum in the English department, inviting students to use creativity and performance as a means of textual analysis.
I hear students in my classes every day participating in the intellectual legwork of being artists. A brilliant philosophy paper is akin to a multilayered Rembrandt print, while a fellow classmate’s perfected French accent pirouettes through the air with ease and musicality. I never fail to react in shock when the same classmate remarks that he or she isn’t creative or an artist. Bringing passion and energy to your work is the birthplace of creativity, the beginning of artistry, and most importantly, draws us closer and closer to setting the world on fire, as St. Ignatius instructed.
My challenge to Georgetown students in the next year is to be boldly and unapologetically artistic. Too often, we as a society have fallen for the lie that business, government, science, math and academia are distilled, analytic discourses, distinct from self-expression and the mastery of artistic crafts. If we believe in the principle of cura personalis, our artistic lives are an integral part of each and every one of our successes. Together, we play different roles in the artistic community here at Georgetown, from performing to producing art to providing technical support to cheering in the audience. Let’s celebrate our creativity rather than deny it.
Nora Rosengarten is a senior in the College. She is production director for the Georgetown University Dance Company and undersecretary of the arts for the Georgetown University Student Association.