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Publisher Description

Philosophically in American society there has been much debate about the validity of art as a reflection of cultural importance. Historically in this country, art was thought to be antithetical to the Puritanical sensibility that defined the character of American life. Perceived as luxury, it was believed that high art caused the moral decay of great civilizations unlike the sciences which advanced the course and direction of civilization. By emphasizing methods of analysis and interpretation art historians have begun to illuminate the complex role of the visual arts as a primary vehicle through which we can illustrate how civilizations thrive. Fundamentally, there exists in human kind an innate desire to create some visual form of personal and public record of the 'self and the environment within which we exist. The most well known examples from ancient history are the cave drawings and small iconic objects of the Neolithic and Paleolithic cultures. These images and objects, in the absence of a written language, provide untold value to the understanding of human existence and the character of the human species. Without these kinds of creative models we would be unable to trace the social and scientific anthropology of human history. The process of translating a concept into visual language is indicative of the multifaceted expressive powers of man. The fact that these images and objects exist asserts the primacy of the instinctive creative impetus and the complexity of the mind in humanistic and scientific terms. In order to appreciate and interpret the importance of creativity we must look beyond the social and cultural constructs of a specific time and place and recognize the invaluable dimensions of the physical object. To decode and extrapolate information from these materials requires an insight based on a confluence of science and art. Harvard University scientist, Edward O. Wilson said it most eloquently; "Artistic inspiration common to everyone ... rises from the wells of human nature ... It follows that even the greatest works of art might be understood fundamentally with the knowledge of the biologically evolved epigenetic rules that guided them ... interpretation will be the more powerful when braided together from history, biography, personal confession and science." (1) It is this philosophy that has transformed the discipline of art history and proffered a growing demand for revisionist methodology specific to the purpose of identifying the complex value of the creative process as a dimension of human anatomy.

Professional & Technical
June 22
Forum on Public Policy

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