browser icon
You are using an insecure version of your web browser. Please update your browser!
Using an outdated browser makes your computer unsafe. For a safer, faster, more enjoyable user experience, please update your browser today or try a newer browser.


phrenologyLet’s start by unpacking the course title. GEN 230 Creative Expression: Visual and Performing Arts.

General Education. The GEN courses are set apart from the departments that house your majors: Sports Management, Media Communications, and the rest. The General Education courses are the courses every student must take. The 230 means that it’s not a course you should take in your first year in college.

We are saying that this course is so important that everyone must take it, but not right away. What is so important about it?

Pablo Picasso

Creative Expression. Creativity is everywhere. There’s not a job you would want where a little creativity wouldn’t help. Sometimes, a lot of creativity is what gets you raises and promotions. In most organizations, this plays out in two ways.

  • Creativity means being able to independently or with a team develop new products, services, and processes.ibusinessdress
  • Creativity also means doing your job — the written and oral reporting — with a quality that can be understood by analogy to how you dress. In any gathering of diverse people, you can compare what people are wearing and how they wear it. As you can see on the right, the “how” in how they wear it is what I’m talking about. Does it look good? Is it engaging?

Many college courses ask you to develop your creativity, in both ways. GEN 230 is the one course in your curriculum that tackles creativity head-on. It drops the A-bomb — the arts — into your otherwise factory-like process through this institution.

Performing arts. This part of the GEN 230 course title depends on the teacher. Some of us concentrate on painting, photography, or poetry. But all the arts — visual arts, performing arts, and literary arts — are inextricably interwoven. As we’ll see, there is not a bright line separating “art” from what you do on the job and in your daily life. Even more fluid are the domains of the various arts.

In its broadest definition, the performing arts are what happens when one or more individuals do things (act) in a specific usually repeatable way (script) for other people, the audience. This definition is broad enough to create a continuum along several dimensions, for example, formal <–> casual. On the formal end is the kind of ritual performed in a church liturgy. On the casual end is the acting you do every day. In between is what you see in a theater or on a screen.artist-6-year-old

Visual arts. This broad term encompasses everything in the arts that we see. The other options involve reading words (literary arts) as well as the other senses, the arts we touch, taste, and hear. Hearing is most common, that is, music and the words that performers use.

The process. How is art made? Artists do art, of course, and they often preserve both the product and the process. As a consumer of art, you are very aware of the product: the movies and music that are so important to your life. However, most of you are not as familiar with the process. That’s what this course is about.

Who are artists? Are they somehow special people?

If you ask a bunch of six-year-olds, “Who here is an artist? Which one of you can sing and draw and tell stories?” Everyone raises a hand.

If you ask a bunch of fourteen-year-olds that same question, hardly anyone raises a hand.

What happened to those six-year-old artists? School and peer pressure. School made them afraid of making mistakes. Peer pressure made them afraid of being different. Notice the common idea? Fear.peer-pressure-14-year-old

Art, or creative expression, is all about making mistakes and doing things differently.

So this course is about making mistakes and doing things differently, doing things you’ve probably never done before.

Art is a process, not a thing. Trust the process.

Give yourself permission.

The journey is more interesting, and more important, than arriving at the destination. A “finished” video is a snapshot of the process, a station on the journey to be left behind.

Why is this a performing arts course?

As long as there have been campfires, people have been entertaining other people, so in that sense the performing arts have been going on a long time. Every culture today has a long tradition of a more formal type of live entertainment that I’m going to call theater.

In our culture, you have been in the audience for theatrical productions, that is, scripted performances, all your life. You have spent thousands of hours watching theatrical productions on TV, in movie theaters, on the Internet, and perhaps even in a live theater production. Live sporting events and church services, indeed any civic and most private rituals, share many features with theater. And there’s the perspective discussed above that we’re all playing roles every minute of our daily lives.

In this course, GEN 230 Creative Expression, you are going to move from the audience, from the passive receiver of the theatrical production, to the maker of the theatrical production. The biggest difference will be between product and process. As an audience member, you focus on the product. The process of producing it is usually invisible, although “behind the scenes” and bloopers videos are very popular on YouTube.

So what is this process? In this course, you will go through a common standard process of making a video, from first glimmer of idea to final display and distribution. To get it all done this semester, you will have a series of deadlines to meet. If you put these off, you will fall behind quickly, so I’m going to be strict about due dates. I encourage you to take risks during this process. Have fun!!