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Kyna Leski, The Storm of Creativity

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Humanities Gateway 1030, UCI

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Architect, designer and educator Kyna Leski has invested her life in navigating the creative process. She has done this through her teaching as a Professor of Architecture at The Rhode Island School of Design, through her design work as a founding principal of 3six0 Architecture and her practices as an artist, aspiring/practicing actor and writer. She is the author of The Storm of Creativity (MIT Press, 2016).

Although each instance of creativity is singular and specific, Kyna Leski tells us, the creative process is universal. Artists, architects, poets, inventors, scientists, and others all navigate the same stages of the process in order to discover something that does not yet exist. All of us must work our way through the empty page, the blank screen, writer’s block, confusion, chaos, and doubt. In this book, Leski draws from her observations and experiences as a teacher, student, maker, writer, and architect to describe the workings of the creative process.

Leski sees the creative process as being like a storm; it slowly begins to gather and take form until it overtakes us—if we are willing to let it. It is dynamic, continually in motion; it starts, stops, rages and abates, ebbs and flows. In illustrations that accompany each chapter, she maps the arc of the creative process by tracing the path of water droplets traveling the stages of a storm.

Leski describes unlearning, ridding ourselves of preconceptions; only when we realize what we don’t know can we pose the problem that we need to solve. We gather evidence—with notebook jottings, research, the collection of objects—propelling the process. We perceive and conceive; we look ahead without knowing where we are going; we make connections. We pause, retreat, and stop, only to start again. To illustrate these stages of the process, Leski draws on examples of creative practice that range from Paul Klee to Steve Jobs, from the discovery of continental drift to the design of Antoni Gaudí’s Sagrada Familia. Creativity, Leski tells us, is a path with no beginning or end; it is ongoing. This revelatory view of the creative process will be an essential guide for anyone engaged in creative discovery.

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