Q&A: Museum of Art speaker Amy Frazier


Amy Frazier has received a M.S. degree from International Center for Studies in Creativity and possess a background in theater. With her experience in the arts and research in creative thinking, she has been selected to do a Smart Talk in light of the University of Iowa Art Museum’s plan to relocate from the IMU to a new flood-proof facility near the intersection of Burlington and Clinton Streets in the future.

The Daily Iowan: So what did you do to prepare this talk?

Amy Frazier: I spent some time talking to the people involved with the transition the Art Museum is making and getting their take on how the community is reacting, generally acquainting myself with the story.

Another part of it was looking at the things I’d done in my grad work in creativity studies, including working with the concept of Janusian thinking.

DI: How would you describe what you ended up producing?

Frazier: The talk is looking at two different ways in particular that creativity can show up that we don’t always necessarily recognize. The first is when it appears as opposing ideas that don’t necessarily seem to mix together. Then there’s the creative potential in transitions, which shows up in ways we might not expect, and demonstrates how things, even when they’re changing, can be part of the same continuity. 

This is represented really well with the two-faced Roman god, Janus. He was a symbol in ancient Rome for beginnings and endings and really elucidates how we can have these two opposing ideas as a single entity.

DI: Since you mentioned the Roman god Janus, I noticed the press release made mention of Janusian thinking. Could you explain what that is?

Frazier: Janusian thinking was a concept named by Dr. Albert Rothenberg. It’s a phenomenon that occurs when you realize that two things you held as opposites are not necessarily opposing one another. An example of this is the artist Jackson Pollock: His work was both abstract and expressionistic. It’s a very powerful moment in creative thinking that can be hard for people to achieve. Often, when we encounter such a moment, we shrug it off because we label the instance as a logical contradiction.

DI: Who are you hoping will attend this talk?

Frazier: I hope it brings in those who are curious about the transition the museum is making to its new home as well as people who are interested in new ways of creative thinking. Hopefully, they’re willing to leave the door open to the possibility that sometime when we feel we’re facing opposites we might actually be facing a powerful creative insight.


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