EXPLORING THE MYSTERY OF ARTISTIC CREATIVITY
THE PRESCHOOL YEARS are often described as a golden age of creativity, a time when every child sparkles with artistry. As those years pass, however, it seems that a kind of corruption takes over, so that ultimately most of us mature into artistically stunted adults. When we try to understand the development of creativity--asking why some people finally emerge as artists, while the vast majority do not--the evidence for some corrupting force is persuasive, at least on the surface.
Step into almost any nursery school and you enter a world graced with the imagination and inventiveness of children. Some youngsters are fashioning intricate structures out of blocks. Others are shaping people, animals, or household objects out of clay or Play-Doh. Listen to the singing: there are melodic fragments, familiar tunes, and other patterns composed of bits and snatches from many songs. As the children speak, you hear the narratives they weave and their charming figures of speech.
Beyond their obvious charm, some of these youthful creations are powerfully expressive. There is poetry: a youngster might characterize a streak of skywriting as "a scar in the sky"; a peer will describe her naked body as "barefoot all over." And, almost without exception,