Finding Autonomy through Creative Frustration: An Auto-ethnographic Study of the Creative Process

By Kevin Currier.

Published by The International Journal of Social, Political and Community Agendas in the Arts

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Focusing on the point of creative frustration, I take the stance that students must establish autonomy in educational settings and create agency, in order to generate and continue creative endeavors. I hope to show students’ perspectives that have been creatively challenged in their educational processes. This will open the discussion of how students will be able to achieve autonomy and agency, in order to navigate through the hierarchy of the educational setting. Through an auto-ethnographic lens, I will explore my past experience with a university theater department, paralleling that of David D. Sapp’s (1992) extension of Graham Wallas’ model of the creative process. Too often, students feel stifled in their creative undertakings because of obstacles placed in their way by mediators. Although momentarily stifling, these creative limitations only come from the student’s inability to find creative ways around, and eventually through, such blockades. The existence of external forces on the creative process must be treated as something intrinsically inherent to all creative endeavors, not a separate entity. Students need to see these external forces on the creative process as something that may expand and ultimately enhance the overall outcomes of the creative product at hand. In this case, the external forces of a mediator will be looked at, from the point of view of a graduate student attempting to create, produce, and stage a play within the university theater's academic limitations.

Keywords: Creative Process, University Theater, Overcoming Creative Frustration, Auto-ethnography, Student Production, Student Autonomy, Educational Hierarchy

The International Journal of Social, Political and Community Agendas in the Arts, Volume 7, Issue 2, pp.53-63. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 496.966KB).

Kevin Currier

Graduate Student, Central Michigan University, Mount Pleasant, MI, USA

I am currently an English graduate student at the University of Central Michigan. During my time taking English literature classes, I attempted to create and stage a play about people's experience with the bereavement process told through poetry. During my creative process, the largest struggle I encountered was not the actual production of the play, but the involvement of external forces on the production. Having gained an understanding of working within the constructs of the university setting, I have learned that external forces and the creative process are truly inseparable, and respected all sides of the spectrum by the end of the production.