Retired Professor's Book Attempts to Tap Inner Creativity
We can't all be skilled painters like Picasso. Or gifted musicians like Mozart. Or genius scientists like Einstein. But that doesn't mean we can't tap into our inner creativity in other ways.
That's the topic of "Picasso, Mozart, and You: Unleashing Your Creative Self," a new book written by retired UA professor George Domino.
Domino, a professor emeritus of psychology who taught college courses on creativity before retiring in 2001, wrote the book to help members of the general public get in touch with their creative sides.
The book explores the meaning of creativity and how to tap into it â€“ while asserting that anyone can be creative. Â
"I've been teaching over the years, here and there, courses in creativity and I've always wanted to write a book that would be for the general public. There are a lot of books out there about creativity and a lot of them are for specific groups, like artists or businesspeople, and there really isn't one for the general public, so that's what I tried to do," Domino said.
Though Domino acknowledges the subject of creativity is a "very complex and broad topic," he attempts in the first chapter of his book to objectively define the concept through an evaluation of human behavior or responses. To be considered creative, a response should meet certain criteria, he suggests: the behavior must be original, or "statistically infrequent;" it must be an appropriate response to a situation; the response must be developed; and, often, the response has an element of "elegant simplicity," such as a Picasso paintingÂ â€“ something that often makes viewers wonder, "Why didn't I think of that?"
Throughout the book, Domino offers techniques and exercises to help readers enhance their own creativity. For example, he suggests keeping index cards in your pocket to jot down creative thoughts, like ideas for poetry, which might enter your mind during an otherwise routine day.
In another exercise, he presents a series of opinionated statements â€“ such as: "George W. Bush is one of the best presidents we've ever had" â€“ and challenges readers to argue the opposite of what they actually feel about the assertion.
The book also interweaves stories about various innovators, both popular and lesser known. One tale recounts the history of the Post-it note, which started with one scientist's failed attempt to create a strong adhesive and later evolved when a different scientist thought to use the "failed" weak adhesive to keep his hymnal bookmarks in place. Â
Domino, whose primary work as a psychology professional focused on the field of psychological testing, became interested in the subject of creativity while doing his graduate work at the University of California, Berkley, home to what was then known as the Institute of Personality Assessment and Research, or IPAR.
"At that time it was the place to study creativity. They were doing studies of the top architects in the United States; they were doing studies on medical students, political leaders, various groups," he said.
As a student, Domino worked as an IPAR staff member and had some involvement wit the creativity studies occurring there, sparking his interest in the area.
He then went on to teach formal classes in creativity at Fordham University in New York City, where, at one point, he teamed up with an artist-in-residence to offer a course that exposed students to both lectures on the psychology of creativity and hands-on creative opportunities in an art studio.
Creativity is important, Domino says, because it simply makes life more interesting and gives people a greater appreciation for the world around them.
"Creativity adds a wonderful dimension to life," he said.
However, society doesn't always foster creative thought, he said, adding that even college students with majors in fields like art and literature are often taught that there is a right and wrong way to do things.
Because humans are creatures of habit, we also often fall into routines and overlook the different, or more creative, aspects of our surroundings, from something as simple as taking a different route home from work for a change in scenery, Domino said.
Domino said that he hopes his book helps people break routine and enhance their creativity.
It is the first general reading book by Domino, who has authored more than 150 articles for psychology journals and the textbook "Psychological Testing: An Introduction."Â
Born in Torino, Italy, in 1938, Domino taught at Fordham University before coming to the UA in 1975.
Next on his list of retirement endeavors is tackling a cookbook project. He hopes to write a cookbook geared specifically toward men.