BLESS YOU: Considering Spirituality in Art
As we move into spring with the beautiful renewal of our landscape, a sense of rejuvenation ripples through our everyday lives. Just as we consider a good spring-cleaning of our living space, Easter with all its contemplations emerges to renew our inner space. Expanding the written stories of Easter are many kinds of artwork aimed at impacting the viewer’s experience of the stories. The scripture is recounted through music, theatrical performances, dance and through many kinds of visual representations in sculpture and paintings.
Of course, religion and spirituality can be separately considered.
“You can have religion with spirituality. You can also have religion without spirituality.”
– Eckhart Tolle
There are countless examples of religious themes in artwork with traditional religious visuals. But spirituality is often depicted through unconventional means. These representations can impact the viewer as much or more than the ecclesiastic icons.
Spirituality in artwork is a recurring discussion in the art world. One of the most elegant voices on the topic, Russian painter Wassily Kandinsky wrote a book in 1910 called Concerning the Spiritual in Art (free download: http://www.worldcat.org/title/concerning-the-spiritual-in-art/oclc/3042682&referer=brief_results). In it, he shared an intellectual discourse of art as nourishment for souls seeking spiritual fulfillment.
“When religion, science and morality are shaken … and when the outer supports threaten to fall, man turns his gaze from externals in on to himself. Literature, music and art are the first and most sensitive spheres in which this spiritual revolution makes itself felt. They reflect the dark picture of the present time and show the importance of what at first was only a little point of light noticed by few and for the great majority non-existent. Perhaps they even grow dark in their turn, but on the other hand they turn away from the soulless life of the present towards those substances and ideas which give free scope to the non-material strivings of the soul.” – Kandinsky
Local Voices have this to share:
“Spirituality has nothing to do with religion. Spirituality is about honoring the deepest part of the heart of ourselves and others, and being honest about what that heart is. Not everyone will discuss this or be honest about it. Society does not quite encourage or allow it.” – Susan Easton Burn
“If art isn’t somehow spiritual, it is not art… I have painted things that were not spiritual to me and I don’t count them as anything I would be proud of- they’re like the Walmart of my portfolio. Walking into Musée d’Orsay was like walking into a cathedral. I cracked up and when I rounded the corner to see a Van Gogh self portrait–I lost it. The fact that God exists was stamped on my heart. Rodin’s sculpture at the High Museum was another spiritual lightning rod for me. As a child at First Presbyterian preschool we would go next door and I always had to touch his toe. It was like touching God’s toe, for a five year old. But I’m not going to lie–I still love that Rodin. He makes my chest hurt.” – Artist Lindsey O’Shields
The discussion of spirituality in art will continue into the future. We hope that you will look for art that nourishes your soul and rejuvenates your inner space.
“The arts are encroaching one upon another, and from a proper use of this encroachment will rise the art that is truly monumental. Every man who steeps himself in the spiritual possibilities of his art is a valuable helper in the building of the spiritual pyramid which will some day reach to heaven.” – Kandinsky