Positive Signs is a series of interpretive diagrams, quotes, and speculations on creativity, optimism and the lives of artists, as well as brief forays into the nature of space, stuff, experience, and cognition.
Positive Signs is an attempt to share my research into positive psychology with artists and art enthusiasts.
In the course of examining optimism, pessimism, and happiness in my art for the past few years, these themes have formed a feedback loop winding through my art, life, and attitudes. I have become endlessly fascinated with how individuals make their lives in the arts, and what keeps them motivated and resilient.
In my research, I have come across interesting findings in positive psychology, a branch of psychology that encompasses wellness and optimal experience. I hope to share some ideas that might help artists maintain optimistic outlooks. For the general public, contemporary artists’ lives may seem shrouded in mystery or rarefied discourse. I hope to increase popular understanding about artists’ lives, concerns, and enthusiasms, as well as psychological outlooks on aesthetic experiences.
I posted Positive Signs on SFMOMA's Open Space blog as a weekly series as a contributor. The drawings are made with glitter and neon pen on gridded vellum, with occasional foil printing, a method of foil transfer pioneered by Virginia Myers.
With thanks to the following sources:
Csikszentmihalyi, Mihaly. Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention. New York: Harper Collins, 1996. [WorldCat.org listing]
Csikszentmihalyi, Mihaly. Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience. New York: Harper & Row, 1990. [WorldCat.org listing]
Csikszentmihalyi, Mihaly, and Rick E. Robinson. The Art of Seeing: An Interpretation of the Aesthetic Encounter. Malibu, Calif: J.P. Getty Museum, 1990. [WorldCat.org listing]
Geary, James. I Is an Other: The Secret Life of Metaphor and How It Shapes the Way We See the World. New York: HarperCollins, 2011. [WorldCat.org listing]
Keltner, Dacher. Born to Be Good: The Science of a Meaningful Life. New York: W.W. Norton & Co, 2009. [WorldCat.org listing]
Lakoff, George and Mark Johnson. Metaphors We Live By. Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press, 1980. [WorldCat.org listing]
Ruppersberg, Allen, Allan McCollum, and Frédéric Paul. Allen Ruppersberg: books, inc. Limoges, France:FRAC Limousin, 1999. [WorldCat.org listing]
Seligman, Martin E. P. Learned Optimism. New York: Free Press, 1990. [WorldCat.org listing]
Tuan, Yi-Fu. Space and Place: The Perspective of Experience. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota, 1977. [WorldCat.org listing]
Vallerand, Robert J. "On the Psychology of Passion: in Search of What Makes People's Lives Most Worth Living."Canadian Psychology/psychologie Canadienne. 49.1 (2008): 1-13. [WorldCat.org listing]
SPEAKERS at the International Positive Psychology Association's Second World Congress on Positive Psychology (2011): Edward Deci (presenting research conducted with Richard Ryan), Ed Diener, Matt Gallagher, Shane Lopez, James Pawelski, Martin E.P. Seligman, and Robert Vallerand. The artist's attendance was possible with the support of the generous support of the Jerome Foundation.
I produced Creativity, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi for an exhibition of re-designed book covers. Participating artists were supplied with a wood plank cut from a disused library bookcase. I found the hardwood so nice to handle that I decide not to encase it in the cover, but to leave it as a prop to engage readers with a creativity exercise: "Identify as many uses for this block of wood as you can." A similar experiment using a brick is a psychologist's test for creativity.
Recovering, an exhibition curated by Mike Chavez-Dawson was on view June to July 2011 at Untitled Gallery in Manchester, UK.
Positive Signs #1–60, 2011, glitter and/or fluorescent pen with holographic foil print on gridded vellum, 8.5 × 11 in / 21.5 × 28 cm
Creativity, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, 2011, glitter, neon and gel pen on vellum and paper, glitter foil on board, acetate, paper, ribbon, wood, 4.25 x 7 x 0.75 in / 11 x 18 x 2 cm