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Amy Ogata, “Design, Creativity and Postwar American Childhood”

MFA Design Criticism, School of Visual Arts,

Tuesday, December 10, 2013 from 6:30 PM to 8:30 PM (EST)

New York, NY

Amy Ogata, “Design, Creativity and Postwar American...

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D-Crit Lecture with Amy Ogata Ended Free  

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Creativity is an attractive, perhaps even sacrosanct, idea and we often understand it in only positive terms. As psychologists avidly studied creativity after 1950, childhood creativity was discussed as an untapped natural resource that could be cultivated and harvested for strategic future gains. I argue that after World War II creativity was understood in rosy, nationalistic terms and was embedded and materialized in toys, houses, schools, arts education, and public museums. These artful building toys, sculptural playgrounds, children’s bedrooms and playrooms, postwar schools, special museums, and art products were designed to cultivate an ideal of imagination in a growing cohort of Baby Boom children. Material goods and their sensory object lessons activated the discourse of creativity. By historicizing, rather than essentializing, the idea of childhood creativity, I suggest that this notion, formed in a context of Cold War anxiety, continues to haunt everyday things, the built environment, and American culture.
Amy F. Ogata is a professor at the Bard Graduate Center: Decorative Arts, Design History, Material Culture in New York City. Her book Designing the Creative Child: Playthings and Places in Midcentury America appeared last spring. A short book with an essay on the graphic and toy designer Fredun Shapur will appear in the fall. She is also the author of a book on Belgian Art Nouveau architecture and design and many articles, essays, and reviews. Ogata received a BA from Smith College, and MA and PhD degrees from Princeton University.
Have questions about Amy Ogata, “Design, Creativity and Postwar American Childhood”? Contact MFA Design Criticism, School of Visual Arts,

When & Where

SVA MFA Design Criticism, Second Floor
136 West 21st Street
New York, NY 10010

Tuesday, December 10, 2013 from 6:30 PM to 8:30 PM (EST)

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MFA Design Criticism, School of Visual Arts,

SVA MFA Design Criticism Department

136 West 21 Street, Second Floor (between Sixth and Seventh Avenues)
Subway: F, V at 23rd Street; 1 at 23rd Street

The SVA MFA in Design Criticism is a pioneering two-year graduate program that trains students to research, analyze, and evaluate design and its social and environmental implications. Students study with some of the best design writers and thinkers of our time, including MoMA’s senior curator of Architecture and Design Paola Antonelli, Design Observer blogger Alexandra Lange, and New York Times critic Phil Patton. They learn how to curate an exhibition, produce a radio segment, launch a blog, edit a publication, host a lecture series, and stage a major conference. 

The School of Visual Arts (SVA) in New York City is an established leader and innovator in the education of artists. From its inception in 1947, the faculty has been comprised of professionals working in the arts and art-related fields. SVA provides an environment that nurtures creativity, inventiveness and experimentation, enabling students to develop a strong sense of identity and a clear direction of purpose.

On Tuesday evenings at D-Crit we present lectures by the most thoughtful and provocative writers, editors, designers, and curators practicing today in the interrelated fields of design, architecture and urban planning. Selected to supplement our curriculum with their original methods and alternative viewpoints, these speakers inspire and challenge our students. Our students, in turn, through the discussion they lead, help illuminate the concerns and priorities of design criticism today. 

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