Jane Piirto is an educator, author of poetry and novels, and a photographer. She has made creativity the focus of her research studies and her life’s work. Much of her research has been with talented young people where she has sought to find out what exactly sparks some people to great heights of achievement and innovation. She has also written about ways we can become more open to the creativity that dwells in us all. In a time when many in the field of creativity research are narrowing the definition to only those who make major changes in their fields, Piirto acknowledges the human quality of creativity that we all have, although it may not be nourished as it should. Mirroring Dissanayake’s definition of art as the human need to make something special, Piirto defines creativity as the human drive to make something new. The following excerpt is from her book Understanding Creativity (2004).
So dear reader, listen up. Here is what I have come to think after all my reading and talking and dreaming:
Creativity is in the personality, the process, and the product within a domain in interaction with genetic influences and with optimal environmental influences of home, school, community, and culture, gender, and chance. Creativity is a basic human need to make new.
While creativity is the natural propensity of human being-ness, creativity can be enhanced and also stifled. the creative personality can be developed and also thwarted.
Creativity takes certain habits of mind. Creativity is not separate from intelligence or from artistry, but part of the whole. What is unnatural and sad is for it to be repressed, suppressed, and stymied through the process of growing up and being educated. What happens to most of us along the way, and often necessarily, we begin to distrust our creative self. Survival dictates that we subordinate our creative poetic self to a more practical, prosaic self. We go along and forget who we are or who we were. Oftentimes the creative poetic self is recaptured in a creativity class, or in therapy, or at a retreat, or in alone time in a cabin in the woods. The creative poetic self is close to our spiritual, personal self, and when we express our creativity, we express our personal side. This is often dangerous and leaves us vulnerable, and so we snap back to the practical and the prosaic out of defense. (pp. 37-38)
Visit her webpage http://personal.ashland.edu/jpiirto/ to find a list of her writings and her photographs.
Here is the Piirto Pyramid of Talent to ponder.
And a video to inspire you: