Distributed Problem-Solving: How Artists' Participatory Strategies Can Inspire Creativity in Higher Education

Distributed Problem-Solving: How Artists' Participatory Strategies Can Inspire Creativity in Higher Education

Tatiana Chemi (Aalborg University, Denmark)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-0643-0.ch007


This chapter aims to deconstruct some persistent myths about creativity: the myth of individualism and of the genius. By looking at literature that approaches creativity as a participatory and distributed phenomenon and by bringing empirical evidence from artists' studios, the author presents a perspective that is relevant to higher education. The focus here is on how artists solve problems in distributed paths, and on the elements of creative collaboration. Creative problem-solving will be looked at as an ongoing dialogue that artists engage with themselves, with others, with recipients and with materials, in asynchronous or synchronous relationships. The empirical background draws on qualitative narratives collected in 2011-2014 and based on interviews with recognized artists. The questions guiding the present chapter are: If creativity does not arise from talent but from exercise and hard work, what can educators at higher education learn from the ways creative groups solve problems? How can artists contribute to inspiring higher education?
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Looking At And Listening To Artists Solving Problems

The empirical background of this chapter draws on qualitative narratives, which were collected in 2011-2014, in collaboration with colleagues from the research group ARiEL (Arts in Education and Learning), based at Aalborg University. In this study, professional artists’ narratives were gathered on the topics of cognitive, emotional and relational elements of creative processes (Chemi, Jensen & Hersted, 2015). The focus of data collection was on the specific qualities of creative and learning processes as interconnected to each other. Although this research was not originally intended to focus on understanding higher education issues, it became clear afterwards that adult and higher education could draw a great number of insights into creative learning and teaching from the collected data, for instance, by discussing the study’s consistent findings on creative processes, motivation and identity. This chapter will focus on one specific element of the creative process - problem-solving, especially in participatory settings. Digging specifically into the artists’ compositional strategies could provide new insights and inspiration for innovative approaches to higher education.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Creativity: The outcome of social negotiation occurring in given cultural spaces, by means of which perceptible products or processes are defined as novel and useful to and for someone.

Innovation: The systematic creation of something novel and useful with an added value to someone.

Distributed: What is synchronously or asynchronously distributed across people, tools, and environments.

Artistic Creativity: The production of a perceptible, novel and useful product that is specific to the domain of the arts.

ART: Something that is man-made by means of skills and crafts, involving media, materials and meanings, and that is shared with and meaningful to others.

Learning: A persistent capacity change by means of will and commitment.

Arts-Based: What is based on artistic products or processes.

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