This is an adventure story. In my quotidian worklife, I am a Psychology professor at Utah Valley University in Orem, Utah. (Here is a link to my professorial page there.) My training is as a researcher: I received a PhD in Social and Personality Psychology from the City University of New York and I have taught statistics, research methods, and experimental psychology for 18 years. However, I spent much of my undergraduate career at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, studying Industrial Design, with the idea of eventually going to Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California, to study Transportation Design. (However. an internship at an automobile manufacturer that shall remain nameless made this career goal less appealing, which is why I ended up in Psychology, instead.)
Despite the change in my academic trajectory, I have maintained an interest in all things creative. I am a huge fan of design (transportation, industrial, graphic, fashion, etc.), as well as opera, modern dance, architecture, et cetera. Fortunately, there is room for these interests in my current field. For example, the American Psychological Association has a division devoted to the Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts and I have been able to teach classes on this a few times. In addition, my wife, Jacque Bell, is a modern dance choreographer (who has gotten me up on stage on a few occasions), and I was on the board of Repertory Dance Theatre (a professional modern dance company in Salt Lake City) for several years.
So, when the opportunity for a sabbatical came up at UVU, I proposed a way to integrate my interests in psychological research and art by taking the 2011-2012 academic year to enroll as a freshman student in the Arts Technology program in the Department of Art and Art History at the University of Utah. The official goal was to develop my skills in data visualization, and things have gone wonderfully towards that goal. (In fact, I’m currently teaching – in spring of 2013 – a data visualization class at UVU and I have an online course with lynda.com called “Interactive Data Visualization with Processing.”)
But in addition to getting my data visualization chops together, I also learned that I love creating art, and that’s one of the purposes of this blog: to document my growth as a creative artist in addition to my work as a data analyst.
And thanks for joining me in this grand experiment!
Also at DataLiteracy.com