You are a genius. In fact, we are all geniuses. Once a title reserved for the likes of Albert Einstein and Steve Jobs, the label is, according to artist, writer and innovator Todd Siler, accessible to every person on the planet. During Wednesday's Vail Symposium program, Siler will teach attendees how to discover and use their genius, by applying the ArtScience process, in order to tackle life's biggest challenges.
"Anyone can be a genius by tapping into many of the things you already do naturally --you're just not aware you're doing them," Siler said. "Through art you can learn how to cultivate that genius in order to reach your most aspired goals."
Siler has spent more than three decades integrating the arts and sciences in exploring the nature of creativity --how we create, discover, learn and innovate - and interpreting how our creations are connected to nature. His lifelong passion for applying his practice of the ArtScience process to real-world problems was recently recognized by the World Cultural Council who awarded him the 2011 Leonardo da Vinci World Award of Arts. He received a doctorate degree in Interdisciplinary Studies in Psychology and Art from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 1986, making him the first visual artist to receive a doctorate from MIT. He has published many articles and books on his work, including "Think Like A Genius" (Bantam Books, 1997), which has been published in nine languages.
In the 1970s, Siler founded the ArtScience process, which uses common arts-based learning tools and science-based learning tools, which individuals and groups can use collaboratively to work together on a shared problem or challenge.
Through extensive research across numerous disciplines, studying what highly creative people have in common, Siler discovered that most of the people labeled as geniuses were naturally applying this process in their disciplines; that it was intuitive to them. Siler teaches that one doesn't need a specific artistic talent to tap into the same creative or scientific genius as the world's most renowned inventors, innovators and artist; it's available to every one of us through practice of the ArtScience process.
"The ArtScience process enables everyone to be creative and innovative in meeting the everyday challenges of one's life and our world," said Siler. "It helps us all be agile critical thinkers, able to exercise real-world problem solving skills in working on any challenge or developing any opportunity."
A four-step process
Similar to the steps of the Scientific Method, there are four steps to the ArtScience process. Step one is making connections between a wide range of seemingly unrelated things; step two is discovering and exploring the meanings and implications of these connections through creative inquiry; step three is inventing and innovating, based on step two's discoveries and explorations; and step four is applying step three's inventions or innovations with tangible results.
These steps, also called the "Metaphorming process," enable people to connect and transform information such as data, knowledge, ideas, feelings, or world-views in personally meaningful, purposeful and useful ways. The symbolic models --works of art - that are created during this process serve as a global common language to help improve communication by fostering understanding.
"Meeting our most urgent global challenges in creating a sustainable future requires integrating all human knowledge," Siler said. "The arts and sciences are key to this integration. Together, they provide powerful tools, countless methods of creative inquiry and myriad ways of communicating that catalyze creativity and spark innovative thinking. They enable collaborations between all fields of knowledge instantaneously, simultaneously and continuously. Understanding how the arts and sciences make this possible is the subject of my art and work."
Siler said the biggest inspiration for his own work is nature.
"Observing the work of nature is most inspiring to me," Siler said. "It helps me see how deeply connected everything in the natural world is and how every human being affects these connections, either intentionally or accidentally. Making and discovering these connections is one of many great joys of art. For me, making art offers new opportunities to wonder about the world and, hopefully, inspire others to see the beauty of the world and to discover how it reflects our creative potential."
Siler will show examples of his own work to participants in Wednesday's program, and will share the stories behind the pieces in order to demonstrate how the ArtScience process works. He will also give attendees an opportunity to apply the process to a specific problem, and to create a model - a piece of art - that represents a solution to that problem.
"I love to watch people learn and grow," said Siler, "it is a big joy for me, and the essence of why I do this."
Tracey Flower is the development and marketing associate with the Vail Symposium. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.