The Theater of Creativity: An interview with Dr. Tatiana Chemi

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Dr. Tatiana Chemi is assistant professor and researcher at Aalborg University, Denmark. She has a background in theater that gives her an unique perspective on creativity, the creative processes and the contexts that allow creativity to flower. In her research she works with a theater company / laboratory to identify creativity processes and ideas that are relevant to teaching and learning at all levels of education.

Dr. Tatiana Chemi
Dr. Tatiana Chemi

One of the important issues that Dr. Chemi discusses in the interview has to do with how creativity goes well beyond the purely cognitive, or the mental processes of ideation that are so often a focus of research and pop-culture discussions, into the more pragmatic side of craft and work. Her research shows that artists focus less on the types of ideational creativity that most non-artists commonly think of as an essential component of creativity, and instead point to a more grounded approach to hard work. For instance she and her colleagues were were surprised that not one of the artists they studied mentioned idea generation. As she says:

Not one of them mentioned what we laypersons in education and organizations are most focused on, spend much energy on, and actually think is what creativity is all about.

She continues that for artists:

Creativity is about work. It’s about getting to work and persisting and failing and getting up. And you need to know yourself. You need to know which processes are helping or stifling your creativity. Creative people persist. They know what works and doesn’t work and try to minimize what doesn’t work and implement what works. They sustain through difficulty and they take pleasure in frustrating long processes. They take pleasure in it and they stay there when it’s hard. Where us laypeople would just drop it. Especially artists because they work with and against medium and material, something they have to shape and form. They know that you have to do it again and again.

All these insights and a lot more in the article below – which is based on an interview with Dr. Chemi. This article is part of a series on Technology, Creativity and 21st century learning published in the journal TechTrends. You can find all the previous articles here and just the interviews here.

Richardson, C., Henriksen, D. & the Deep-Play Research Group (2019). Questioning the myth of ideation: Tatiana Chemi and the Hard Work of Creativity. TechTrends, 63: 245-250. dos: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11528-019-00391-5

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