Creativity Defined

“Powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.”

Apple’s newest iPad ads use this phrase from Walt Whitman’s O Me! O Life!

I just love this…it resonates with me… it seems to sum up just about everything we do at The Arts Center and most everything we do as human beings.

These simple, artistic words sum up the process of CREATIVITY.

Creativity is adding something new to the world that has value.

Each of us has something to share. A voice, a passion, a perspective. The potential to add a stanza to the world’s story.

As part or the North Dakota Council on the Arts’ Art for Life Program I’m traveling around the state to share a technique called TimeSlips. Jamestown and its partner organization Ave Maria Village and Heritage Centre have been part of the Art for Life Program since 2008.

The TimeSlips method of creative storytelling was developed to help people with dementia (but can be used by any age or group and would also work well in intergenerational situations). The process assumes that a person with dementia is a person capable of relationship, growth, and purpose, at all stages of the disease. The method recognizes that creativity is possible for people with cognitive disabilities and that creativity provides a different way for these individuals to connect.

The TimeSlips technique uses compelling photographic images to initiate a group process whereby facilitators ask participants open-ended and sensory questions about the viewed photograph. Every participant’s responses are recorded and echoed throughout the session culminating in the final retelling of the story.

This method allows individuals who might be considered cognitively closed off to utilize their imagination and … “contribute a verse.” Through this group process, called Creative Engagement, personality, life experiences and more can be revealed which helps the “patient” and “care giver” to connect. This understanding fosters respect, builds self-esteem, builds skills and creates social support.

If you are interested in learning more about this technique go to or contact me. In the upcoming months I’ll be sharing some of the TimeSlips stories.

For our TimeSlips activities, we will be using photographs from the book Sundogs and Sunflowers: Folklore and Folk Art of the Northern Great Plains. This customizes the activity, making it special and unique, and relevant to people in our region.

The Culture Builds Community blog is submitted (almost) weekly by The Arts Center Gallery Manager Sally Jeppson. She would love to hear your comments here or email