Artwork for podcast Not Real Art
Dr. Ashfaq Ishaq: Harnessing Creativity for Positive Social Change
Episode 22711th July 2023 • Not Real Art • Crewest Studio
00:00:00 01:01:38

Share Episode


What’s the best way to spark meaningful social transformation? Today’s guest, Dr. Ashfaq Ishaq, believes he has an answer: “If you are looking at social justice or equity or the environment, [creativity and empathy are important for all of these things],” he says. “Through the arts, we can cultivate creativity and grow mutual empathy.” 

On today’s podcast episode, host and NOT REAL ART founder Scott “Sourdough” Power sits down with Dr. Ashfaq Ishaq to discuss his role as founder and executive chairman of the International Child Art Foundation (ICAF), an organization that fosters the imagination of children and infuses it with empathy. The ICAF organizes and produces several programs intended to create the next generation of empaths, including their flagship after-school program, Arts Olympiad, and the World Children’s Festival, a three-day celebration of creativity, diversity, and unity. 

“The [World Children’s Festival] should be such a positive experience that it becomes transformative for the children,” says Dr. Ishaq. “Only a positive, transformative experience can wash away the adverse childhood experiences that a child may have suffered from – These children see each other and they can co-imagine and co-create art and communicate with each other through the universal language of art so that they can become empowered to disrupt the generational transmission of trauma.”

In today’s episode, Dr. Ishaq shares the ICAF’s origin story, what it means to foster future generations of creative empaths, and how the universal language of art can empower children to disrupt generational trauma. Scott and Dr. Ishaq also discuss the role of sports and STEM programs in holistic education, why we should be a nation of creators rather than consumers, and what you can do to support “a brighter, more peaceful, prosperous, and sustainable future.”

Tune into today’s episode with Dr. Ashfaq Ishaq for a fascinating conversation about coloring outside the lines. 

Key Points From This Episode:

  • Insight into Ashfaq’s vision and the work ICAF does to democratize creativity.
  • How empathy makes creativity morally positive rather than morally neutral.
  • Ways that ICAF seeks to address serious issues like transgenerational trauma.
  • Why Ashfaq believes that we don’t value children’s creativity as a society.
  • Capitalism as an outdated model and why we need to build a nation of empathic creators.
  • What inspired Ashfaq’s interest in creativity and how ICAF counters the “fourth-grade slump.”
  • The power of imagination and holistic STEAMS education that includes art and sports.
  • What it means to develop a nation of creators rather than consumers.
  • The need for imagination and creativity in order to use AI effectively.
  • A look at why Ashfaq says that he is “disappointed in American artists.”
  • An overview of his background in economics and what led him to create ICAF.
  • How imagination enhances human discovery in a creative-empathic future.
  • The importance of expanding on our overly simplistic definition of creativity.
  • Benefits of cultivating design-thinking and collective creativity in corporations.
  • Ways that you can support the International Child Art Foundation.

For more information, please visit