Whom would you select to be included on a list of 15 highly creative Americans? That task was a formidable one for the designers of "Creativity -- The Human Resource" at the Museum of Science here through March 29.
Their choices: Romare Bearden, John Cage, Melvin Calvin, Judy Chicago, Merce Cunningham, R. Buckminster Fuller, Lawrence Halprin, Jasper Johns, Margaret Mead , George Nelson, Linus Pauling, Simon Ramo, Jonas Salk, Charles Townes, Roman Vishniac, and a team working on the problem of Plate Tectonics, the science of the movements of earth's oceans and continents.
In searching out accomplishments of the past and suggesting that individual effort is significant, "Creativity -- The Human Resource" offers an antidote to the notion that "there is nothing new under the sun," or that there are no frontiers left to be conquered. The positive assurance of the discoveries of, say, the dance innovations of a Merce Cunningham offer hope for the future.
The imaginative mind and an ability to communicate its visions are shared in some measure by all of us. Most often creativity is associated with an end product of the arts: the explosive form of an abstract sculpture, the delicate phrasing of a poem, or the mammoth achievement of an opera or symphony.
Yet creative thinking knows no boundaries in human endeavor. Isaac Newton formulating the laws of gravity was no less creative than Leonardo da Vinci painting the "Mona Lisa." Both men identified a problem, whether explaining a natural phenomenon or capturing on canvas the mystery of a beautiful woman. They sought solutions in conception and design, tested their ideas, and the results, in these two cases, enriched mankind.
The process is no different when a child chooses to express his feelings in poetic metaphors, or when a person finds a unique solution to an everyday problem.
This exhibition explores the human creative process. But rather than presenting only biographies and the products associated with the individuals, various aspects of each person's life and work are displayed in glass cases, augmented by videotapes shown on television units, in notes and books that can be handled, and recorded discussions heard throughout the exhibition area.
Occasionally the abundance of material is confusing, but there is much to be learned from the overall concept and the examples of these creative people.
The fields covered run from anthropology (Mead) to zoology (Vishniac), with art, dance, furniture design, physics, and other subjects between. While it is difficult to argue with such eminent choices, some questions do arise.
For example, why are there no poets or novelists included? Is there a judgment implied in the choice of only two women (one of whom has passed on)? And what about the overall age of these people? Except for Judy Chicago, these persons made their first discoveries long ago and are now well accepted.There were no risks taken in compiling this list.
To emphasize the point that creativity is not confined to illustrious persons , and that the viewers have a stake in the subject matter, the exhibits are arranged so that the visitors are actively engaged. Computers programmed with games to test individual creative powers are positioned in a special area.
on the morning of my visit, I had to wait my turn behind a group of schoolchildren to see if I could invert a triangular cluster of 10 dots in only 3 moves. In addition, I could use a different group of computers to call up information organized by subject, date, and person about creative work in various fields. A short film describing periods of usually high creativity in Western culture provided a historical overview.
As Plato knew, "What is honored in a country will be cultivated there." The enormous response in numbers of visitors to "Creativity --tance of the subject matter, beyond the few who have been singled out for recognition.
The $3 1/2 million exhibit will move on to Washington, D.C., at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, May 9-July 5. Then it goes to Denver, Atlanta, and Vancouver, British Columbia, during 1981 and 1982.