On View Image
puzzle pieces, completed puzzles, and a brain inside a pod with poetry written inside
The World Inside You
April 5, 2023 - June 25, 2023

The World Inside You: Research on Creativity and the Adolescent Brain at the University of Minnesota

Weisman Art Museum is proud to present The World Inside You, an exhibition of artwork made by adolescent artist-participants in a collaborative research project undertaken by an interdisciplinary team of artists and researchers from the University of Minnesota Medical School, led by Dr. Katie Cullen, poet Yuko Taniguchi, and artist Peng Wu, which is part of a years-long collaborative partnership with the Weisman Art Museum.

The Creativity Camp study is both scientific research and a wildly fun eight-day camp experience infused with creative exploration. Funded by the University of Minnesota’s competitive Minnesota Futures Award and a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, this study focuses on how engaging in creative activities impacts adolescents. Researchers aimed to test a potentially high-impact, community-based practice, while simultaneously discovering its brain mechanisms. Camp activities were designed to enhance awareness of the connection between the self and creativity through various reflective, imaginative, and exploratory activities. Forty brave and curious adolescents joined the program to help the researchers understand how creative experiences impact brain flexibility and mental health. While the team learned so much from the adolescents’ experiences, researchers were also inspired by the teens’ creative work.

This exhibition mirrors the Creativity Camp’s overarching theme: an invitation to traverse "the world inside you." Like exploring the ocean, exploring the self involves delving into constantly evolving depths and encountering unexpected multitudes. Self-exploration goes hand in hand with growth and change. Adolescent camp participants were prompted to "go in a direction that is not generally taken." For instance, certain things are always kept inside (our physical brain, heartbeat, emotions, imagination), and certain things are always outside (nature, the outdoors, community, society). In art, insights can be discovered by intentionally misplacing things somewhere they are not normally kept. This exhibition invites the audience to experience the discoveries made by Creativity Camp adolescents in their interior and creative journeys. 

About the Imagination Central study

What is imagination and where does it come from? Do adolescents imagine differently from adults?  Imagination Central is a study that aims to explore the way we study the brain, creativity, and the imagination of adolescents with adolescent participants. Through creative activities led by artists and researchers, the program invited adolescent participants to become aware of their own imagination and explore big questions about imagination through artistic, cultural, and scientific views. Together, adolescents and scientists embarked on a creative journey to find a way to meaningfully capture adolescents’ imagination. 

Community Celebration

Saturday, May 6, 1 - 4 p.m.
Weisman Art Museum
This event is free, but RSVP is requested

RSVP AT → z.umn.edu/Celebration_WIY

Join us for a public reception to celebrate the artists and researchers behind the exhibition, The World Inside You. Hear from the artists and researchers behind the team, led by Dr. Katie Cullen, poet Yuko Taniguchi and artist Peng Wu. Enjoy light refreshments following a brief presentation.

Image credits (top): Artwork made by Creativity Camp participants, including three self-portraits and one clay brain box, all made in various creative activities to invite the artists to express their interior landscape, and to invite viewers into the contents of their self-image and thoughts. Clockwise: idontknow by Jade Strayer; Connections (detail) by Maggie M.F. Wurdock; Sugar and Spice and Everything Nice by Echo; Memories by Myka Sweeter.