As a young aspiring artist seeking to legitimize myself and my career path in the eyes of parents and other “adults,” I insisted that what I did was work! After all, the products of artistic creation are called art “work.” We typically dismiss the dilettante as one who merely plays at art instead of working seriously. As I’ve grown older, and wiser (perhaps), I’ve become more comfortable with the notion of art as a rarefied form of play. Society thinks of play as something adults should outgrow with childhood, but most animals, humans excepted, continue to play until the day they die. The problem is that the nature of play is misunderstood. There’s more to play than meets the eye it would seem.
In a segment titled Play, Spirit & Character, on National Public Radio’s program On Being, Krista Tippett interviews Stuart Brown, physician, founder and director of the National Institute for Play. NPR has this to say about the interview:
“Stuart Brown, a physician and director of the National Institute for Play, says that pleasurable, purposeless activity prevents violence and promotes trust, empathy, and adaptability to life’s complication. He promotes cutting-edge science on human play, and draws on a rich universe of study of intelligent social animals.”
The interview is an audio recording. Listen to it while you’re working (playing): Play, Spirit & Character
Other links on play and creativity:
- Freeplay.com, website of Stephen Nachmanovitch, author of Free Play: The Power of Improvisation in Life and the Arts.
- Stuart Brown’s website
- The Association for the Study of Play (TASP)
- Play Power: How To Turn Around Our Creativity Crisis, by Laura S. Richardson, Atlantic Monthly.