© 2009 Marla McLean Chaos and Creativity

Chaos, limits and Creativity

Last night I attended a lecture by Lenny Campello about the artist Frida Kahlo. This was in conjunction with an exhibition that I have a piece in, Finding Beauty in a Broken World: In the Spirit of Frida Kahlo http://www.smithfarm.com/gallery/current.html Two ideas resonated with me. First was the “boxing in” of identity. Be it race, gender, art, or learning styles. This tendency in teaching limits solutions, ideas, and observation. In art, it limits the artist from being adventurous, for fear of losing their prescribed style, i.e. abstract painter. How can we resist this urge that is so culturally ingrained? The second idea stemmed from a piece in the show which used butterfly imagery. Lenny briefly talked about the Butterfly Chaos Theory. Simply, that all forms of chaos are actually a type of order. “The phrase refers to the idea that a butterfly’s wings might create tiny changes in the atmosphere that may ultimately alter the path of a tornado or delay, accelerate or even prevent the occurrence of a tornado in a certain location. The flapping wing represents a small change in the initial condition of the system, which causes a chain of events leading to large-scale alterations of events. Had the butterfly not flapped its wings, the trajectory of the system might have been vastly different. While the butterfly does not cause the tornado, the flap of its wings is an essential part of the initial conditions resulting in a tornado.” (from a Wikipedia explanation) I love this idea as metaphor. I have thought a lot about the question When does chaos turn to creativity (when allowing small groups of children to work on a project collaboratively in the studio and in my own work)? How do I nurture production? Do I limit or help the process when I facilitate? The Butterfly Theory is a fabulous metaphor for me. I can let it be, the process will happen. The tornado might happen, but the creativity will happen too. You can check out Lenny’s art blog http://dcartnews.blogspot.com
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8 Comments

  1. tina carstensen lopez
    Posted July 17, 2009 at 5:19 pm | #

    congrats – beautiful. i’ll be looking forward to your posts. tina

  2. Posted July 18, 2009 at 6:55 am | #

    ISorry I was in DC a week too early to see that show, it looks wonderful. Congratulations on your honorable mention in it!
    Do I sense butterfly imagery in new art on the way? I like that theory.

  3. Posted July 18, 2009 at 10:38 am | #

    What a beautiful photo!

  4. Alysia Scofield
    Posted July 18, 2009 at 2:28 pm | #

    I was a part of a study group at Goddard on the concept of liquid identity. It reminds me of what you write about the boxing in of identity. The idea is that we can only have an identity if it is possible for our identity to change. So when we put too much stock in our own, or another person’s identity, or on group identities then we misunderstand the fluidity of identity. It it part of a postmodern philosophy, one that Reggio fits into well. I would love to talk about it with you more sometime!

  5. Posted July 18, 2009 at 8:03 pm | #

    Yes, let’s talk. I love that there’s a name for this, liquid identity, great visual too.

  6. Posted July 22, 2009 at 7:42 pm | #

    Marla:
    This is so very cool. I’m so glad to see your colorful photos. Very inspiring.

  7. Posted October 21, 2009 at 10:08 am | #

    One thing that’s really resonated with me here at Reggio is the emphasis they put on the group. All of the documentation is of the group, and even as I walked around the centers, the children are almost always working together. I imagine the chaos in my own classroom when group work takes place, and get overwhelmed, but these children seem to be completely acclimated.

    -Lauren
    http://bigvoices.wordpress.com

  8. Posted October 24, 2009 at 3:06 pm | #

    Yes, however, even when children are in a small group working on their own representation, there is a collaborative problem solving that takes place by virtue of the environment the culture of caring.

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