Link between divinity, creativity?

Durangoans look at how humans use their imaginations

Redford Enlarge photo


How do humans create? Is creativity about more than art, music and literature? Is the spark of creativity ignited by the divine?

The Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Durango is going to examine those questions and more in its summer lecture series, “Creativity: The Divine Spark,” that will begin Sunday.

“We held a meeting to pick the topic, and there were lots of ideas around this one,” said Katherine Burgess, who has organized the series since it began four years ago. “It was a seller’s market, the schedule was full before we left. It was a miracle – see, Unitarians do have miracles.”

Speakers will address topics from how to nurture creativity and imagining the image in photography to encouraging the art of playing for adults and appreciating the creative beauty in mathematics.

“Most people have no clue about how math can be creative,” said K Redford, who will speak about “Mathematics and the Creative Loop” on June 16. “They only know what they learned in high school and college, and that was definitely not creative.”

Redford, who taught everything from arithmetic through calculus to grades six through 12, became interested in the creative side of mathematics after a friend gave her Douglas Hofstadter’s book Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Etnernal Golden Braid.

“You don’t have to know music theory to appreciate music, understand the color wheel or perspective to love art or understand the details of mathematics to understand its creativity,” she said, explaining she’s going to use a Moebius strip as her example. “I’m not going to teach a math course, and there won’t be a test.”

Alane Brown, who teaches a class about the psychology of creativity at Fort Lewis College, is examining the environments that foster creativity by asking members of the Unitarian poetry group to read poems and talk about the inspiration behind them.

“Brooks Taylor is going to read a poem inspired by being in an oak grove, and how that relates to a hymn we sing about oaks, she said. Creativity is nurtured by multidimensional thinking and how that produces creativity, putting things together that have not been put together before.”

The current best-seller Imagine: How Creativity Works by Jonah Lehner made the subject seem timely to organizers. Burgess also recommends composer Igor Stravinsky’s The Poetics of Music, from lectures he delivered at Harvard University, although she admits they wouldn’t be everyone’s cup of tea.

“The thing that makes us human is that imagination,” Burgess said. “Creativity is reconstructing, reconfiguring something new out of something that already exists.”

Judith Reynolds, critic and cartoonist for The Durango Herald and an art history professor at FLC, will be speaking on “Creativity and Madness” in July, but she has a broader perspective on the subject.

“Our culture has given the corner of creativity to certain professions,” she said. “But there are people who have mastered the art of living in a really creative way, or cooking or carpentry. That creativity matters, too.”