Advancing Creative Thinking: Imagination to Innovation

A two-day conference organized by The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, Ridgefield Library, and Ridgefield Arts Council with media sponsor The Morris Media Group
Friday, April 27 & Saturday, April 28, 2012, Ridgefield, CT

about | schedule & speakers | buy tickets | directions | team | sponsors

Alyson Baker, Director, The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum | Andrew Levine, York Theatre | Bruce King-Shey, Jump Associates | Andrea Gartner, CityCenter Danbury | Nick Donofrio, IBM Fellow Emeritus

Contacts: Laurie McGavin Bachmann, 203-438-2282, or Tracy Moore, 203-438-4519,

Post Conference News

Check out our post conference news along with a short film taken at the conference, photos, testimonials and more.


Join the creativity conversation on Twitter at #act2012.  Share your ideas and inspirations before, during and after this weekend’s sessions.


  • Full Two-Day Conference $125
  • Friday Education Seminar and Reception $ 25
  • Friday Keynote and Reception $ 35
  • Saturday Conference, Reception and Keynote $ 95
  • Saturday Reception and Keynote $ 35

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Conference Schedule and Speakers

Event Overview:

Check our Conference Program or print out a one page flier of Conference programs and events

Detailed Description:

Friday Afternoon and Evening, April 27, 2012, The Aldrich Museum, 258 Main Street


From 3:00 pm and Throughout the Weekend | Aldrich Museum, Front Lawn
The Lab Xperience: The Inner Path to Outer Creativity by Joe Miguez, Artist and Co-Founder, Labyrinth Xperience

All are invited to experience the labyrinth in front of The Aldrich throughout the conference -- including the evenings following each keynote when it will be illuminated. The concept, symbol and metaphor of the Lab (labyrinth) were first introduced into the creativity community by Joe in the 1990s. The Lab is now embedded in many creativity conferences throughout the world.

The Lab is present at the conference through a collaboration with the "Creativity + Social Change" class at the University of Connecticut-Waterbury, with support from the International Centre for Creativity and Imagination and The Adam Broderick Salon & Spa. The Lab is a temporary sculpture and experience open to the community as part of the conference.

Education Seminar

Irvin Scott4:15 – 5:30 pm | The Aldrich Museum, Education Center  SOLD OUT
A pre-conference Education Seminar will examine and celebrate innovative approaches to education, and explore ways to create a trusting and empowering environment that allows educators to teach creatively. In this opening presentation, Irvin Scott, Deputy Director of Education for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation will reach back to his fifteen years as a high school English teacher.  He will interweave storytelling, poetry, and jazz to immerse the audience in what should be an inspiring message of hope in the power of effective teaching and teachers. He will also provide a brief overview of the work the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is doing to ensure an effective teacher in every classroom in America.


5:30 – 6:30 pm | The Aldrich Museum, Lobby
Reception. Participants are invited to get to know one another and share insights at a wine reception.

Friday Evening, April 27, 2012, Jesse Lee Memorial United Methodist Church, 207 Main Street

Musical Prelude

6:40 – 7:00 pm | Jesse Lee Memorial United Methodist Church, Sanctuary
Music with SymphoNYChorus
To get the audience in a creative mood as they arrive to hear the opening keynote presentation, Henric Idestrom, Music Director of Jesse Lee and the SymphoNYChorus, will conduct a group of 8 singers in a of a variety of choral arrangements, including classical, gospel, and popular music. The SymphoNYChorus is a Christian, faith-based premiere choir and orchestra committed to the performance, promotion and expansion of choral singing as an art form, providing artistic, social and spiritual support for its members, and educating, enriching, and inspiring audiences throughout New York City and the world

Opening Keynote Session

7:00 – 8:30 pm | Jesse Lee Memorial United Methodist Church, Sanctuary
Disruptive Creativity: How Bright Ideas Can Change Everything with David Pogue, a columnist from The New York Times. David will be joined by Bruce King-Shey, Relationship Lead, Jump Associates, and Lily Yeh, Artist and Social Activist, who will respond and engage in a conversation with Pogue. The program will be introduced and moderated by Geoffrey Morris, editor and publisher. Listen to a radio interview with Lily Yeh on Creativity in Play!

David PogueAs the New York Times’ tech reviewer for 12 years, David Pogue has a front-row seat for observing the blazing-fast torrent of new inventions. Hundreds of gadgets and technologies come down the pike every year, and plenty get lots of press - but most of it’s junk. But in this fast, funny presentation, Pogue will stick his neck out to predict which will actually cause major, disruptive changes.

He’ll display, discuss, and even demonstrate technological advances - in personal entertainment, cellular tech, Web 2.0, and more - that will have the most impact on society in the coming years. And he'll observe that behind every disruptive force is somebody with a vivid imagination and a lot of perseverance. 

Listen to a radio interview with David.

Saturday Morning, April 28, 2012 , The Aldrich Museum, 258 Main Street  

Space is limited in some of the conversations and workshops and will be filled on a first come, first served basis. Refreshments will be available throughout the day.

Session 1

9:00 – 10:30 am | The Aldrich Museum, Leir Gallery
Success Stories in Organizational Innovation with Matt Greeley, CEO Brightidea; Aria Finger, COO,; Jordan Fischer from Jump Associates; and moderator Andrew Levine, Director of Development, York Theatre, musician, producer and consultant.

What does innovation look like when it is successfully employed inside an organization?  What traits do innovative organizations  share across sectors?  What are some of the barriers and pitfalls that less successful organizations fall prey to, and how can organizations manage to avoid them? How do organizations effectively invite employees to bring their creative ideas to the table? Those are some of the questions we will explore in this creative conversation that will reveal what excites those working in the field of innovation and inspire you to bring new tools and ideas to your own organization.

9:00 – 10:30 am | The Aldrich Museum, Conference Room
Storytelling and The Art of Imagination, an interactive workshop with Nancy Mellon, international

Stories can help us when we are faced with obstacles to access great depth and strength of soul. Practice a tried and true method to invite your imagination to meet a variety of personal and communal challenges, and discover how story-making and storytelling can enlighten what boggles the rational logical mind. Learn how to gather wise and wonderful stories that can be shared at the drop of a hat.

9:00 – 10:45 am | The Aldrich Museum, Education Center
Drawing: Gray Matters!, a hands-on drawing workshop with Claire Watson Garcia, artist, educator, and author.

In many fields such as the visual arts, creative writing and musical composition, as well as scientific discovery, inventive thinking follows similar patterns. Come experience the process “first hand” in this drawing workshop where absolutely no previous art skill, other than the ability to make a simple doodle, is needed.

You’ll follow a fun and easy-to-do  sequence of exercises which mirrors the inventive thinking process, resulting in an original drawing of your own. A step-by-step instructional sequence will teach you how to create a variety of basic drawing effects such as patterning, and light and dark tones. After which you’ll learn how to apply these skills effectively to create a single unique artwork.

Workshop participants can expect to use not only the intuitive, "right-brain" states traditionally associated with creative thinking (and the Muse!), but also involve the "left-brain" in analysis and constructive evaluation in order to bring your own individual drawing to a satisfying conclusion.

Session 2

10:45 am – 12:15 pm | The Aldrich Museum, Leir Gallery
Creative Models for Towns and Cities What role does creativity play in engaging citizens in their communities? How do towns and cities leverage the imagination and ideas of their residents? What's the connection between creativity and diversity and flourishing communities? How might "creative community building" include, but not be limited to, the arts? These questions and more will be explored in dialogue with YOU and Andrea Gartner, Executive Director, CityCenter Danbury; Linda Lees, Director, Creative Cities International; Philip Morris, CEO, Proctors; Alyson Baker, Executive Director, The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum; and Steven Dahlberg, Director, International Centre for Creativity and Imagination.

10:45 am – 12:15 pm | The Aldrich Museum, Conference Room
Passion Pays: Where Business Meets Heart and Soul with Carolina Fernandez, financial advisor to visual and performing artists and entrepreneurs.

Passion Pays explores the intersection of creativity and business. Determined to affect change in the way that business is currently conducted across industry sectors author and financial advisor Carolina Fernandez explore paradigm shifts in the world of commerce. How does one become a change agent? What are barriers to framing creative business conversations? How can colleagues take creativity seriously and allow co-workers the necessary freedoms within the work environment to explore creative outlets? Can the language of Wall Street be decoded so that everyone "get's" Money? Come prepared to challenge current models, shake up the status quo and reinvigorate the workplace as you know it.

10:45 am – 12:15 pm | The Aldrich Museum, Education Center
The Power of Play, an interactive workshop engaging participants in dynamic play exercises, with Joan Almon, Executive Director of The Alliance for Childhood.

"Everyone is an artist." So said the acclaimed German 20th century artist Joseph Beuys. Everyone is endowed with deep well-springs of creativity which manifest in play, in artistic expression, in entrepreneurial activity, and in many other realms of life where we relax and get into what is often called "flow."Unfortunately, well-springs can get clogged up and the flow is minimized or suppressed. That is what is happening in childhood today with the decline in play as a major problem.

It is why research shows a decline in levels of creativity during the past two decades, as measured by the Torrance test. It is why the business community wonders where the next great creators will come from. Yet there are ways to educate children and liberate adults so that creativity flows again. Play is for all ages, as is exploration and improvisation. In this workshop we'll discuss creativity and we'll enhance it through playful activities and exercises. 

Saturday Afternoon, April 28, 2012

Lunch: 12:15 – 1:00 pm | The Aldrich Museum Education Center and Lobby

Session 3

Matt Greeley1:00 – 2:00 pm | The Aldrich Museum, Leir Gallery
Turnaround Business Technologies with Ben Edwards, VP Digital Strategy and Development, IBM, and Matt Greeley, CEO, Brightidea.

Technology is a tool of both discovery and implementation for companies in the global marketplace. This conversation looks at how breakthrough technologies can help put businesses on the leading edge of discovery. It also examines the process of taking leading edge discoveries and bringing them into a workable form that can have the largest and most effective impact on everyday life for individuals and organizations they work for.

1:00 – 2:00 pm | The Aldrich Museum, Education Center
Artistry Unleashed: Creativity and Cognition with Dr. Hilary Austen, author and Adjunct Professor, Rotman School of Business, University of Toronto.

Artistry means working and living at the edge, even beyond the edge, of what you know.  Surprise, uncertainty, ambiguity, intensity, and change are all disruptive forces that we typically avoid or fear.  Yet they are the essential origin of both creativity and great performance.  Imagine making effective progress in the face of an uncertain future; achieving excellence without sacrificing creativity; investing passion even as you apply reason and intelligence.  This is artistry's domain.

1:00 – 2:00 pm | The Aldrich Museum, Conference Room
Reigniting Creativity with Allison Arden, author and VP and Publisher of Advertising Age

Allison ArdenIf most of us stop thinking of ourselves as creative by the age of ten, how do we re-inspire it in ourselves, encourage it in our teams, and raise children who never let go of their creative identity? 

There is no magic wand.  It all begins with doing.  Allison Arden, VP/Publisher of Advertising Age, author of The Book of Doing, and the mother of two young children shares the absurd tale of her personal exploration to uncover the answers to these questions and highlights the important life lessons she learned along the way.  To date, this journey has helped fuel the evolution of an 80-year-old brand, created incredible moments with family and friends, and ultimately led her back to a love of writing – a bit of the creativity she left behind in childhood.

1:00 – 2:00 pm | The Aldrich Museum, Gallery
Slow Art: Finding Time
with Suzanne Enser-Ryan, Senior Manager, School, Teacher and Docent Programs, The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum.

“Slow down, you move too fast . . .” Slow Art Day is a global celebration of art that encourages people to look at art SLOWLY — and thereby experience the work in a whole new way. The Aldrich will join in the Slow Art Day celebration for the second time, joining venues around the world in simultaneously commending the pleasures of taking a leisurely, but in-depth look at the works on view. This experiential workshop will clarify the importance of slowing down to take a contemplative look as a gateway to creativity. Educator Suzanne Enser-Ryan will utilize two works of art in the current Found themed exhibitions to facilitate discussion, spending at least half an hour with each piece.

Session 4

(A) 2:15 – 3:45 pm | The Aldrich Museum, Leir Gallery
Sparking Idea Engines: How To Inspire Creative Breakthroughs with Bryan Mattimore, President, The Growth Engine Co.

Bryan Mattimore, Principal in the Growth Engine, will be sharing both the “story behind the story” of some of his company’s new product consulting successes, as well as the creative thinking tools and ideation techniques that led to these breakthroughs. As part of his presentation, he will also facilitate a short brainstorming/ideation exercise on a creative challenge submitted by an audience member.

Because of Bryan’s creative presenting style, this promises to be an entertaining and fun-filled workshop!


2:15 – 3:45 pm | The Aldrich Museum, Conference Room
Listening to the Voice Within - A Workshop with Irish Poet Dr. Anne F. O’Reilly.

Discover your own voice and your original, unique mode of self expression. Through the metaphorical language of poetry, juxtaposed with music, and opportunities for spontaneous writing, we will open new doors to creativity. As you dive beneath the surface of the everyday, and suspend the dominance of the rational mind and judgment, many surprising things may surface. In an atmosphere of mindfulness, deep listening and non-judgement, we will explore the connection between the inner and the outer world, and awaken the creative spirit within.

Listen to a radio interview with Anne O'Reilly

2:15 – 3:45 pm | The Aldrich Museum Education Center
Altered Books Workshop with Katie Stevenson, illustrator, painter, sculptor, designer, and teacher.

According to the International Society of Altered Book Artists, an altered book “is any book, old or new that has been recycled by creative means into a work of art. They can be . . . rebound, painted, cut, burned, folded, added to, collaged in, gold-leafed, rubber stamped, drilled or otherwise adorned.” Transforming a discarded book into a new work of art uses mixed-media and varying techniques which inspire invention. You can make each page an independent expression, or you may decide to tell a story in the process of altering. It is also exciting to allow parts of the old book to show through so that the words and pictures become either a part of the art or story you are creating.

Session 5

4:00 – 5:15 pm | The Aldrich Museum, Leir Gallery
Moving through the Creative Process, movement workshop with James Robey, BFA, MA, Director of the Ridgefield Conservatory of Dance.

Step outside your box to explore movement as a metaphor for creative thinking. Often, we get stuck in ruts when it comes to thinking creatively. Even the same tools that may have served us well in the past get worn out. Through this experiential workshop, suitable for both the completely inexperienced mover and those who enjoy embodied creativity, participants will explore the creative process techniques used by dance-makers and draw connections to their own work as educators, innovators, entrepreneurs, and artists.


4:15 – 5:00 pm | The Aldrich Museum, Education Center
Lit by Imagination: A Poetry Reading with Irish Poet Dr. Anne F. O’Reilly.

"The possible's slow fuse is lit, by the Imagination."
Emily Dickinson

Join poet and author Anne F. O’Reilly as she recites and reads poetry that inspires a passion for the possible.

Saturday Evening, Ridgefield Library, 472 Main Street

5:30 – 6:45 pm | Ridgefield Library, Main Library                                                                          Reception prior to closing Keynote Session presented by The Friends of the Ridgefield Library.

Closing Keynote Session

7:00 – 8:30 pm | Ridgefield Library, Dayton Program Room
Innovation in the 21st Century, Nicholas Donofrio, IBM Fellow Emeritus, Executive VP Technology and Innovation (retired); Dr. Hilary Austen, Author and Adjunct Professor, Rotman School of Business, University of Toronto; David Yaun, Vice President, Global Industries Marketing, IBM; and moderator Steven Dahlberg, Director, International Centre for Creativity and Imagination.

Innovation in the 21st Century ... everything is changing; always has and always will. In fact, things will change faster going    forward. Technology will enable all this and more. Even innovation is changing. Technology is now more a means to an end and no longer necessarily the innovation itself.  

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