Corrine is a visual artist. In response to my second-anniversary invitation to suggest a blog topic related to writing, reading, history, imagination, or the creative life, she writes, “Your five broad topics are a part of all of my art projects. I love to include words and read a lot to find just the right ones, or they find me. I research the history in art techniques and creations to fuel my imagination and creativity.”
The part that swirls in my mind most persistently is her use of words in visual art. I’ve heard since childhood that verbal and visual processing are distinct phenomena, opposites even. Pop psychology says left-brainers deal in language and logic, while right-brainers generate creativity and art. Where does that leave those of us whose creative medium is language?
Barring brain injury, the sides of the brain work together, though their differences are real. The left is more involved in speech, the right more attuned to “Aha!” moments. The right perceives an image and the left concocts a story to interpret it. Brain scans refute the myth that being rational or intuitive reflects which side dominates. Both analysis and creativity emerge in the connections between the halves. As Corrine suggests, art draws on all the parts working together.
I'm a historian who writes novels and literary nonfiction. My home base is Madison, Wisconsin.