2016 Conference

2016: Openness to Experience: Rethinking Creativity & Aesthetic Intelligence

Cognitive psychologist Scott Barry Kaufman has argued that the disposition or personality trait most deeply associated with human creativity is an “openness to experience.” Featuring Dr. Kaufman, as well as a number of practicing artists, the 2016 CCCA symposium will press into this notion of creativity and aesthetic intelligence, exploring its broader implications for the artist’s studio, the academy, and the communities we live in. Featured speakers include: Scott Barry Kaufman, cognitive psychologist & author of Wired to Create, University of Pennsylvania; Matthew Luhn, story supervisor, Pixar Animation Studios; Leah Samuelson, social practice artist, Wheaton College; Kiel Johnson, artist, Hyperbole Studios, Los Angeles; and Betty Spackman, artist, Canada.

Featured Presenters

Scott Barry Kaufman

Scott Barry Kaufmann is scientific director of the Imagination Institute in the Positive Psychology Center at the University of Pennsylvania. He conducts research on the measurement and development of intelligence, imagination, and creativity. Kaufman is author of Ungifted: Intelligence Redefined and co-author of the just released book Wired to Create: Unraveling the Mysteries of the Creative Mind (with Carolyn Gregoire). Kaufman is also host of The Psychology Podcast, co-founder of The Creativity Post, and writes the blog Beautiful Minds for Scientific American. Kaufman completed his doctorate in cognitive psychology from Yale University in 2009 and received his masters degree in experimental psychology from Cambridge University in 2005, where he was a Gates Cambridge Scholar.

Matthew Luhn

Matthew Luhn, Pixar Story Supervisor, has been inspiring and teaching on how to create successful stories and memorable characters for over fifteen years. While others simply teach, Matthew also works full-time at Pixar Animation Studios, ensuring his experience is relevant in today’s industry and the knowledge that he imparts is cutting edge. With over 20 years experience in the entertainment industry, Matthew has developed stories and characters on four Academy Award and four Golden Globe winning movies. His credits include all three Toy Story movies, Monsters Inc., Finding Nemo, Cars, Ratatouille, UP, Monsters University, Toy Story of Terror, Toy Story That Time Forgot, and The Simpsons

Leah Samuelson

Leah Samuelson is an artist and a professor at Wheaton College. With a background in high-end commercial mural painting with a Chicago-based studio and also in urban slums with the Philadelphia-based arts-intervention and education group BuildaBridge, Samuelson's work is now focused on transformational pedagogy, socially engaged art curriculum development, and strategies of institutional collaboration through the arts. Her projects involve political, economic, social, religious, and ecological spheres toward a goal of grappling with, rather than fighting against disagreeing groups.

Kiel Johnson

From Kiel Johnson’s childhood in suburban Kansas City, Missouri, where his father produced the Johnson’s County Gazette, the artist developed an interest in mechanical devices. Johnson’s skillfully hand-built replications of boom boxes, cassette tapes, cameras, and microphones, among other objects, pay nostalgic homage to antiquated and disappearing technologies. Generally made with cardboard, particle-board, glue, and tape, the sculptures are monochromatic and their scale is greatly altered from the real objects on which they are based. In addition to making sculpture, Johnson creates exquisite, highly detailed black-and-white drawings. He studied sculpture and drawing at the University of Kansas in Lawrence, where he received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in 1998. He obtained a Master of Fine Arts from California State University, Long Beach, in 2000. He remains on the West Coast, in a workspace in Los Angeles called Hyperbole Studios.

Betty Spackman

Betty Spackman is a multi media installation artist who has exhibited internationally and taught at various Universities in Canada and the USA. Her collaborative performance/installation projects have been shown at major venues throughout Europe. Spackman is the author of A Profound Weakness: Christians and Kitsch (Piquant Editions, 2005) and a forthcoming mentoring manual and personal journal about her own struggles as an artist/Christian/human being and the cost of saying yes to the creative process.

Jonathan Anderson

Jonathan Anderson is an artist, author, art critic, and associate professor of art at Biola University, where he has been teaching since 2006. Anderson earned his MFA from California State University, Long Beach, in 2004, where he received the Distinguished Achievement Award for Creative Activity in Drawing & Painting. For several years, Anderson’s artmaking has explored the capacities and limitations of representation, and has been featured in group and solo exhibitions throughout the United States. In addition to making paintings, Anderson’s research and writing focuses on modern and contemporary art with a particular interest in bringing contemporary art and theology into more meaningful conversation and mutual understanding. Anderson has contributed essays to several books and journals and is coauthor, with theologian William Dyrness (Fuller Seminary), of Modern Art and the Life of a Culture: The Religious Impulses of Modernism (IVP Academic, 2016). 

Robert Covolo

Bob Covolo is an ordained pastor and served for over a decade at Grace Brethren Church of Long Beach. He holds degrees and certificates in the Humanities, History, English literature, Divinity and Philosophy of Religion. He has taught classes at the undergraduate and graduate level on systematic theology, New Testament and theology and the arts. He is also currently a dual Ph.D. student studying theology and culture at VU Amsterdam and Fuller Theological Seminary.  His dissertation research focuses on the relationship between fashion theory and theology.

Luke Aleckson

Luke Aleckson joined the Biola University department of art in Fall 2015. Previously Aleckson served as department chair, professor of art & design, and director of the Denler Gallery at the University of Northwestern in St. Paul, MN. Other professional experiences include teaching adjunct sculpture at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where he received his MFA in 2006, as well as work as a graphic artist, web designer and social network designer/developer. Aleckson’s artwork has been featured in solo exhibitions at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, the Suburban in Oak Park, IL, and the Jane Wallace Fine Arts Center in St. Paul, MN. His pieces have also been included in group exhibitions at the Chicago Artists Coalition, the Chicago Cultural Center, Transformer in Washington DC, and the Luminary Center for the Arts in St. Louis, MO. Aleckson’s work focuses on how utopian ideals manifest themselves in lived spaces.

Jeff Rau

Jeff Rau is an artist, curator, and educator based in Long Beach, CA. In his studio practice, Rau employs photography and other documentary media (video and sound) in a conceptual practice of archiving, mapping, and serial performance. Rau has exhibited his work in a wide variety of group and solo shows throughout southern California. He is a founding member of the curatorial collective Sixpack Projects and has worked on exhibitions with a number of Southern California institutions. Jeff Rau has taught photography, digital media, and gallery practices at Biola University since 2008. In 2014 he was appointed the University Public Arts Curator and Gallery Director for the Earl & Virginia Green Art Gallery.

Kevin Van Lant

Kevin Van Lant is a licensed clinical psychologist who received his doctorate from Rosemead School of Psychology at Biola University. While maintaining a clinical practice at CIFT, Kevin is also a full-time professor at Biola University teaching in the School of Professional Studies and the undergraduate psychology department. He works primarily with depression, anxiety, addictions and those suffering from long-term emotional and spiritual distress. Kevin speaks on a broad range of topics including mens issues and developing spiritual disciplines, as well as parenting and relationships.

Mike Gonzales

Michael Gonzales is a film professor at Biola University’s Cinema and Media Arts department. Gonzales started his film career as an art director working on the THE HUDSON BROTHERS PRESENTS series for SHOWTIME. He taught Stagecraft and Art Direction for five years at Loyola Marymount Unversity's School of Communication Arts where he earned his first Master's degree. He also taught as an Adjunct Professor at USC in the School of Cinema (Cinematic Arts) for 10 years where he earned a second Master's degree from the Master of Professional Writing Program. His Ph.D. is from the Cook School of Intercultural Studies at Biola University where his dissertation was on Education and Empowerment of Latinos in Film. While teaching a variety of CMA classes over the years, Dr. Gonzales specializes in teaching classes in screenwriting and directing. Dr. Gonzales is an award winning commercial film director garnering recognition with numerous Aurora and Telly Awards.

Symposium Exhibition


Curated by Jeff Rau

 Keil Johnson

EXTRA-ORDINARY THINGS features five artists who regularly transform the ordinary into the extraordinary, engaging with unexpected and often commonly available source materials to construct works that are surprising for their scope and simplicity. Teeming with allusion and wordplay, these objects sustain a certain tension as open/structured, logical/intuitive, playful/thoughtful, as they subvert expectations and suggest greater implications. Features the work of Lynn Aldrich, Steve Roden, Olga Lah, Kiel Johnson, and McLean Fahnestock.

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