I make a practice of sending my students at Vermont College of Fine Arts what I call “distractions.” The label fits because these bits and pieces do distract hard workers from their work. But an occasional distraction is healthy, isn’t it, if done in moderation? It’s like following the optometrist’s advice to look up occasionally when you read a long book – the eyes and the mind need to rest, and you can come back to your task refreshed. Or, to imagine it from an Emily Post perspective (does anyone do that anymore, or did the 60’s finish off the Queen of Etiquette forever?) it’s like providing lemon sorbet to cleanse the palate during a seven-course meal.
Often I send my students a TED talk – one of a series of brilliant thinkers talking to a crowd of brilliant thinkers about brilliant things: visual information processing, Zulu wire art, New York City’s topography before it was a city. Sometimes I send them something funny – at least, something I think is funny (like Bucky the Cat reading bad poetry to Satchel the Dog in the Get Fuzzy comic strip.)
Usually, it has to do with wonder, mystery, beauty, pleasure….which all play a role in creativity, so maybe my distractions do not really distract. Maybe they intersect with and influence the work in progress in subtle ways. Maybe that’s my sinister (in the original sense – “left-sided”) plan.
Here is a link to the distraction that’s going out to students tomorrow – definitely click on that. I chose it because 1) it’s a mystery and 2) it’s about art and 3) it’s beautiful. Here’s a sneak peek:
Thanks to my good friend and co-worker Sarah Ellis, who sent me that particular link and who from time to time sends me other things which get me to look up from my reading and fill me with wonder.