Creativity Exploratory expands education, provides opportunities
When Katie Pastor begins her work day, she doesn’t do so in a cubicle or other traditional-looking office space.
As a fellow for the College of Arts and Letters Creativity Exploratory, her workplace consists of bright green walls, white boards covered in colorful writing and large TVs and computers.
The Japanese and studio art senior said her job in the Creativity Exploratory, an addition to the college that provides students a unique learning environment, is more fulfilling than any previous position she has held.
“I love this job — that’s the biggest difference,” Pastor said. “This job is one that actually makes it so that when you leave college, you don’t feel like you’ve been dropped in a pool of water and just been told to learn to swim.”
A special space
The Creativity Exploratory is made up of three rooms on the third floor of Linton Hall. These rooms are used by members to hold meetings and work on the creative projects they dream up, such as a documentary that aims to connect East Lansing and Lansing residents by interviewing Capital Area Transportation Authority bus riders.
College of Arts and Letters Dean Karin Wurst said the Creativity Exploratory is both a place and a concept. The idea for the Creativity Exploratory, which is funded by donors and college appropriations designated to provide services to students, came in the fall of 2008, but a physical location was not given to its members until last semester.
“It is a third place … between home and the classroom,” Wurst said in an email. “It facilitates frequent interactions among students from a variety of majors in a playful, experimental environment as they work on common creative projects.”
Pastor said she enjoys her time at the Creativity Exploratory because it’s unlike her classes, where she feels her ability to express herself is limited by rubrics and her professors’ expectations.
“At the Creativity Exploratory, … they want to see how big you can dream it up,” she said.
Creativity Exploratory Convener Danielle DeVoss said exploring imagination is what the Creativity Exploratory is all about.
“We want all College of Arts and Letters students — and broadly all university students — to come here to make, to explore, to do, to think, to research, to experiment, … to have an experience that’s going to complement their major,” she said.
Being a fellow
Although it encourages all students to take advantage of the space, the Creativity Exploratory employs six fellows who are paid between $8 and $10 per hour. Fellows are required to help maintain the space, plan future events and work on projects that students or community members need assistance with as well as complete their own individual works.
Pastor said she has spent much of her time at the Creativity Exploratory studying the connection between music and creativity by asking participants to listen to various musical genres while engaging in creative activities. Another student project analyzes graffiti in the Lansing area to determine how art is labeled and understood.
Fellows will present such projects at the annual University Undergraduate Research and Arts Forum, which will take place Friday.
Every employee is required to work 10 hours a week, but Brooke Hawkins, a fellow participating in the graffiti study, said because she enjoys her job so much, she typically works more than she is required to.
“We all really like our jobs and coming in, so even when we’re not on the clock, we spend a lot of time there anyway,” the English and professional writing junior said.
Scott Schopieray, one of the core collaborators in the Creativity Exploratory, said the space is a friendly and open place to work in.
“There’s a lot of working relationships that seem to gel really quickly around here,” he said.
Schopieray said the Creativity Exploratory helps students take the material they learn in class and apply to it real life situations to make them more marketable once they enter the job market.
“You get experience doing those sorts of things now in an environment where you have connections to resources,” Schopieray said.
DeVoss also said it is important to encourage students to step outside of the classroom setting and engage in the world around them. The Creativity Exploratory provides individuals with the opportunity to do this, she said.
“I think so often … we do a lot of sitting in our classroom, … and then you leave, and that’s it,” DeVoss said. “This is a moment to have those rich discussions, to have that analysis and then to extend it to bring it further into the world.”
Looking into the future, DeVoss said she hopes to be able to provide these services to even more students.
“I want more people here,” DeVoss said. “I want people to be able to see the exciting work that we’re doing. That’s my dream world of what this space will become.”