Is Art Spiritual?

Posted on | January 4, 2012 | 8 Comments

Greetings and welcome to my blog.

Please excuse the fact that the blog is still under construction. I find that, despite my plans, and the blog posts I already have written in anticipation of setting up my blog, that I am nonetheless inspired to make a post, thanks to @justineartist, someone I follow on twitter.

Justine enthusiastically posted an image on her blog of an inscribed bone, glorying in its exuberant beauty. You can see this image on her blog, and I invite you to do so.

I do not know the reality of the artist who inscribed the bone, and perhaps that is not necessary, but I suspect that he (or she) did not think of their-self as an artist, that the work was not informed by a need to self-express, or to impress others with their artistry, simply a pure enjoyment of the form, with the drawing itself informing the work.

It reminds me, in much the same way as so many artists have admired the unself-conscious drawings of children, that unaffected quality. As much as it has been popular for the last century or so for art to be a self-expression, I think that it is only when you get yourself out of the way of the art that it acquires true meaning and eloquence.

Thus I feel the need to honor Justine, and that ancient, unknown artist, for the reminder. My current work in progress was blocked by precisely that precious “I’m an artist & my work needs to be…” fill-in-the-blank preconceived idea that I’ve been struggling against for years.

In the process of learning to do art there are many skills required, and much practice, yet perhaps one of the most important necessities is the abandonment, the unlearning, of the artistic cliches… the acquisition of the ability to remove ‘self’ from the endeavor, and permit a flow from a deeper self more connected to the absolute.

We nail the inadequacy of our words, our images, onto the truth, and only manage to obscure it.

Some time after I first started doing art, long after the initial “Hey, maybe I can impress girls with this stuff” (which didn’t really last very long), and some time after I started acquiring a few skills, I discovered an interesting phenomena. When I became intensely involved with a work, “I”, whatever you call it, would disappear for awhile. When this happened, when “I” came back and had a look at what my hands had done, it was always much better work than I managed to do when “I” was present.

I don’t know where “I” goes when this happens, or who or what does the work, I don’t remember. When I come back to myself I feel good, kind of both peaceful and excited at once, but I do not have an explanation for it.

Of course, I’ve thought about it a lot. I have a sense that I have a much larger ‘Self’ that I access at these times, but I do not know this, I only think it. Were it not for these experiences I would believe that the much smaller (it seems) conscious awareness ‘self’ I normally dwell in is all that I am. Yet because I have had these experiences I know that this is not so.

I label these experiences as ‘spiritual’ because I have the sense that I connect to a deeper, more meaningful reality, a more fundamental level of truth. This level is essentially non-verbal simply because words are lies. Language is useful to some extent because it helps us, with our limited sensory bandwidth, communicate. Yet it can, at best, only point in the general direction of the truth.

Art transcends, i.e., some poetry, some visual art, some art, manages to elevate itself somewhat from the general strata of untruth and reflect some tiny aspect of the absolute. It is, I think, the true purpose of art, to lift us momentarily from the mundane and vouchsafe us glimpse of what is real. The value of this is immeasurable.

I welcome any dialog, any shared experiences. Please comment. (Note: if you do not see a comments form below, you are on the front page of the blog, not on the post page. Please click on the “Is Art Spiritual?” title.)





8 Responses to “Is Art Spiritual?”

  1. Justinenettleton
    January 17th, 2012 @ 3:24 pm

    When I left University I couldn’t paint as I was so entangled by the dilemma of what was the right kind of art to do. Only when I became a teacher of 5 and 6 years olds was I reminded that the only reason is to get stuck in and experiment with materials and the ideas/art will flow. Keep the ego out of. 
    I agree with your post. Thank you.

  2. Wyrde
    February 1st, 2012 @ 4:36 pm

    Yes, this is why so many artists worship the work of children, so unencumbered by preconception it cannot help but inspire.

    I have much gratitude for the bone you showed me.

    Thank you for your comment! I am sorry I was so slow to reply, life pressures and still constructing the blog.


  3. Natasha
    January 17th, 2012 @ 4:17 pm

    I do love the moments where I let the real me detach and lose myself in words. I am a lover of language, communication…but most of all, those still quite moments where my pen can really find it’s flow.

  4. Wyrde
    February 1st, 2012 @ 4:38 pm

    Yes, I know it is the same for writing, paradoxically enough, as it is for painting. The place the words originate is a place of no words at all.

    Thank you for your comment!


  5. brian miller
    January 17th, 2012 @ 5:54 pm

    i think that it certainly can be…of course i think everything carries an element od spiritual in it…and the act of creating certainly is….

  6. Wyrde
    February 1st, 2012 @ 4:39 pm

    There are many ways to approach the Absolute, of course. Meditation, for example. I think that painting is my favorite form of communication with spirit.

    Thank you for your comment.


  7. Lee Hager
    January 17th, 2012 @ 6:20 pm

    As a former university art instructor, I must say that I
    wish more of my students had your view of art. I taught the 101 classes for
    color and design theory, but it was always my goal to teach the students that
    they could express themselves more elegantly if they had mastered the skills,
    but that was not the aim of art. Rather, the point was to ‘surrender’ to a
    greater connection. The arts are among the highest aspirations of humanity, and
    no doubt this is why they are given little respect in our society. From a
    quantum perspective, all thought that has ever been still exists within the so-called
    ‘empty space’ that fills our universe, now often called the zero point field.
    When we let go of the rational brain, we are freer to tap into that vast
    repository. This is no doubt why so many artists, writers, poets, musicians and
    actors have said that they have no idea where their greatest works come from.

  8. Moonskin
    February 1st, 2012 @ 3:54 pm

    I so agree with this, I am a late bloomer into playing with Art and words after years of listening to to the inner critic who shouted way to loud at times  and sounded a bit like my incredibly talented father. I also have worked with children and learned from them about staying in the moment and *playing * with what happens ..The Art on my blog if its Art ( I dont know and I dont care really) as I stand out side what is presumably what the  great cultural  definition of Art and so many thing is , you could add to that dress code or  anything ..I just dont buy into it any more – The point about creativity is its part of us,  part of the  spark inside that is the gift from the greater self/the divine ,   whatever you wish to call it .. it will manifest 
    its how we learn, its a huge part of the spiritual growth I feel..but thats just me..
    Like your blog… I had no idea you were here ! 

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