Transcending utility? The gendered conflicts of a contemporary creative identification

Taylor, Stephanie and Paludan, Marie (2020). Transcending utility? The gendered conflicts of a contemporary creative identification. Feminism & Psychology, 30(1) pp. 63–79.



The late 20th and early 21st centuries have been described as an age of creativity in affluent Western societies because of the increased popularity of the visual arts and the expansion of the global sector of the creative and cultural industries (CCI). The psychology of creativity has contributed new conceptualisations of creativity and creative processes, challenging associations that derive from the elite arts. This article investigates the implications of these changes for the gendering of creativity and creative practice. It asks if contemporary reconceptualisations of creativity open new possibilities for women to identify as creative practitioners. The article presents a critical discursive study of interviews with UK women maker-artists. The analysis shows how the women emphasise the practical applications or utility of their creative practice. A claim of utility can function to justify the practice. In addition, a claim of therapeutic utility, for others and for the artist herself, potentially addresses the neoliberal priority that people take responsibility for their personal well-being. However, the justification of utility contrasts with the creative vocation associated with the masculine elite artist who pursues “art for art’s sake”. The justification can therefore be seen to undermine the women’s creative identifications, reinstating the conventionally masculine status of creativity and the arts.

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