“Games to Cultivate a Creative Attitude” utilizes a series of arts-based group games designed by the instructor to cultivate creative and critical thinking, promote collaboration and dialogue, and exercise multi-modal expression. The games hinge on the creative practices of “finding and interpreting ambiguity,” resulting in imaginative reconsiderations of everyday objects, symbols, words, and spaces that are shared and developed collaboratively through various forms of artistic production (drawing, poetry, drama & movement). The artistic outcomes of game-play produce novel associations, imagery, and symbolism that may inform more advanced artwork. Furthermore, an analysis of how players arrive at their reinterpretations – an exercise in thinking about thinking – provides new problem-solving strategies potentially applicable to any office, classroom or studio.
Developed as part of the instructor’s Masters Thesis in Lesley University’s Community Art & Education program, this workshop has been delivered for a variety of audiences including children, teens, college students, teachers and professionals. Past professional workshop clients include the Boston National Historic Park interpretive staff, Reebok Advanced Concepts department, the U-Mass Boston Art Department, the Community Art Center, and NuVu Studio. Workshops have been delivered on a volunteer basis for clients such as Haley House’s “Art is Life Itself” series and the Creative Union Gallery.
A monthly “Games to Cultivate a Creative Attitude” workshop series at CityPOP Egleston in 2016-2017 earned a grant from the City of Boston Opportunity Fund for community artists.
I employ the same approach to creativity explored in these workshops as I do in my own artistic practice. At the outset of a workshop I will sometimes share artworks with participants to provide a concrete example of ambiguity reinterpretation. Artworks employing symbol reinterpretation include Selections from a Symbology of Struggle, the sequels Bad Idea and Liberalism vs. Progressivism, and the diptych General Reassembly. Artworks employing object reinterpretation include gameshow Name That Schlock, the video artwork Home Schlocking, and Wes Buckley’s Soundcrafting with Wes Buckley, Episode 7, in which I make a special guest appearance.
“Neil’s workshop was creative and inspiring, helping my students to develop a playful and inquisitive approach to learning. The exercises were inventive and well constructed, and I’m bringing him back again this year!” – Erik Levine, Associate Professor of Art, U-Mass Boston
“Neil was very engaging and received a lot of positive and enthusiastic reactions. He had good ideas that helped guide the class’s knowledge and style on how to interpret or look at simple objects/concepts as more than they appeared. What was their function? Why does it matter? He was a good leader, provided fun activities, and had us all laughing and enjoying ourselves in the process!” – Maeve, student, U-Mass Boston
“Neil’s workshop was a fun experience and a great way to engage a group of people. His game incorporates the space around you, and helps you think and talk about your surroundings in a funny new way. I think everyone who participated took away something that they can keep using in their own creative practice.” – Anyah Suderman, Proprietor, Creative Union Gallery