The Essential Catalyst: From CUT/PASTE | Minneapolis College of Art and Design

The Essential Catalyst: From CUT/PASTE

By Sanjit Sethi on September 15, 2021
Pottery by Sanjit Sethi
Sanjit Sethi

Much of the world of art and design focuses on the spheres of creativity and innovation. And for good reason. Creativity and innovation are the essential building blocks or DNA of what we do at MCAD. It is through these two defining forces that we fuel how we engage with the world, whether through our studio practices, our conceptual development, our work ethic, or our individual philosophies and vantage points. However, no matter how well-informed we are, no matter how astute we are, no matter how dedicated and hard-working we are, the practices of creativity and innovation are meaningless without the catalyst of empathy. Empathy is what makes creativity come alive sparking connection, pliancy, and meaning. The same is true with innovation. Without empathy, innovation is a cold, heartless principle of progress that serves systems, but does little to serve others (or ourselves). Empathy makes innovation warm. Empathy makes our creative practice lean in and become a practice of understanding, and not simply an exercise in making for making sake. 

The MCAD alumni featured in CUT/PASTE, like so many other alumni of our remarkable community, offer clear examples of practices where creativity and innovation are activated and transformed by empathy. 

At some point, long ago, creativity and innovation became separated from each other, like oil and water. Creativity became the purview of studio artists and performers, while innovation was the territory of designers and scientists. This fracturing of creativity from innovation has been tremendously counterproductive. My job as president is to seize every opportunity I can to bring creativity and innovation closer together at MCAD, so that they are constantly interlocking and informing one another. The way to do this is through empathy. Empathy is that essential binder, that catalyst, that glue, which allows the forces of creativity and innovation to fuse and create a culture of generosity.  

This story originally appears in CUT/PASTE, the alumni magazine from MCAD. Are you an MCAD alum that would like to receive our next issue? Update your information to get CUT/PASTE in your mailbox.

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