My initial answer was not much but that I loved reading, movies and going to museums.
A few days later thinking about his question, I decided art has everything to do with many aspects of work, particularly in spurring innovation.
I define innovation as “fresh insightful connections”. For more please check out…http://rishadt.wordpress.com/2010/05/17/becoming-innovative/
Art truly serves as a catalyst to innovation in at least four ways. Each of these feed fresh thinking, insights or the ability to see connections. First, artists transform beauty out of materials or words or a point of view by connecting things in new combinations to illustrate the reality of being human. Second, art particularly the written arts allows you to be in the mind of somebody else, allowing you to feel and understand from a different perspective and therefore gain insights. Third, art teaches you to see or shows you how to see in fresh new ways. And finally, the arts can be used to help communicate and make a point better than stating it directly.
To illustrate this I will use how I learned something new or had a thesis underlined by three “artistic incidents” over the past week.
1. Photos that ask you to see differently: This week Chicago had one of its pleasanter days and I decided to walk over to the Art Institute of Chicago at lunch time. The walk through Millenium park is beautiful and as a member of the Art Institute I try to get in a lunch visit monthly and spend time in a new exhibit or favorite gallery. On this day there was an exhibit of photography in the Modern Wing by a Los Angles artist named Uta Barth.
Ms Barth leverages photography in a novel way to get you to both see what you may not have seen but as importantly to make you forget what you are looking at but be aware of the resultant feeling.
Her work which can be simple as conveying the feeling of light on a curtain or a shadow on a kitchen wall is inspired by a line from Robert Irwin which goes…“Seeing is forgetting the name of the thing one sees”.
My original answer to my flight companion continues to be true. I watch movies, read books including poetry and go to musuems because i love doing so and find it fun and fullfilling. But while it makes life better, I also believe it makes my work life stronger.
I encourage folks to embrace the arts because not only does it remind us that it is life we are living but it can make work so much more meaningful.