Acquiring negative capability: a psychosocial exploration of the role of art teachers in fostering student creativity.
The International Journal of the Arts in Society, 6(2) pp. 339–350.
An artist’s ability to continue to work and be creative in the face of creative nothingness and the anxiety that this can produce is an essential and necessary capacity for all artists. It is suggested that this capacity, referred to as ‘Negative Capability’, is gradually acquired and learnt, and developed over time as part of the process of being an artist and practicing art. Like tacit knowing it is a form of experiential knowledge However, unlike tacit knowing, it is a rarely discussed or documented aspect of the educational process despite it being a common experience for artists. It is argued that art teachers both consciously and unconsciously facilitate in students an internalised capacity – ‘Negative Capability’ – to tolerate, and work with, and through, the uncertainties, experiences and anxieties of their art practice in potentially creative ways. Keats’s concept of Negative Capability is used, together with the psychoanalytical concepts of containment, potential space and, reverie, as a ‘tool’ for exploring the student artist experience and the role of art teachers in fostering student creativity within the UK higher education context.
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