On April 15, 2016, Dr. Bjarne Sode Funch, 2015-2016 Templeton Fellow at the Notre Dame Institute for Advanced Study, led a conference entitled "Artistic Creativity: An Existential-Phenomenological Study," which brought together artists from the visual arts, writing, and musical composition in addition to scholars from art, history, literature, music, philosophy, psychology, and theology.
In his project, which was the focus of this conference, Professor Bjarne Funch aimed to develop a psychological theory of artistic creativity based on phenomenological studies and existential philosophy. Funch's theory emerged out of phenomenological analyses of autobiographical works, interviews, and personal documents by renowned artists such as Margue-rite Duras, Agnes Martin, Einojuhani Rautavaara, and other artists. The theoretical component of the project was inspired by existential theorists such as Søren Kierkegaard and Maurice Merleau-Ponty. Its focus on sensation and emotion was an attempt to demonstrate art’s importance for existential integrity and mental well-being. Three principal queries that framed this conference are as follows:
- How do artists create works of art, especially as described from a first-person perspective?
- What is the importance of pure experience with respect to artistic creativity?
- What should be expected of an existential-phenomenological theory of artistic creativity?
This programming was made possible with generous funding from the John Templeton Foundation.