Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Illness = Creativity ?

One day I went into the art studio sick, and thus worked in an altered state throughout the day. A few days later I saw the art I had made and thought --hey that is really cool! I've since wondered if being sick had something to do with being creative.

10 minutes browsing only found two other people who think the same thing, here and here. But then I finally found some research on the subject.

In his journal article When Walls Become Doorways: Creativity, Chaos Theory, and Physical Illness, Tobi Zausner addresses the idea of the connection between illness and creativity by researching the lives of 21 visual artists. The artists fell into four categories:
"The artists studied clustered into four patterns. First, a
period of illness preceded choice of a career in art.
Second, illness transformed the creative process and
the art produced. Third, for some artists, illness became
life's focus, with negative consequences to the artists
and their art. Fourth, artists who remained creative
during an incapacitating or terminal illness produced
work in an entirely new medium."

Because the sample size in this study is only 21 people, Zausner concludes that the study is preliminary to actual research about creativity and illness.

Although the idea of creativity when you're sick is counter-intuitive, I thought of a mechanism for the correspondence: being sick activates your immune system, a great heaving part of which is your you use more of the entirety of your noggin when you're sick. Plus, if you're resting to get well, that's a lot of unused energy looking for ways to get out.

So, if you're sick today, rest up, drink lots of fluids, and play around with a new art medium. You never know what good may come of it.

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