expressing primordial beauty

Nathalie Delay and her work were featured recently on the Science and Nonduality website in an article she wrote called Getting Closer to Truth Through Art. It’s a delight to feature her work at the awakened eye artisans’ gallery, and here’s a taster of what you can read on her page.


Artists have to talk about beauty; that’s their role. Only an artist can allow herself to act for nothing, for no reason other than the beauty of the act, of the moment. A drawing has no use in the final scheme of things, and that’s what is touching: this absolute needlessness, a time spent only in the service of beauty as a tiny offering to the great beauty of reality, to its limitless and unequaled wealth. The act of creation is the celebration of the moment, of living, and of everything which goes beyond the need to possess and rule.

 

The Awakened Eye: art by Nathalie Delay 3

 

The title of the series The light behind objects is an invitation to question the nature of the light which gives form to things. Without light the object does not exist. Without the object’s help I cannot perceive light. I cannot look at sunlight directly or it blinds and burns me. The original light is one, and is revealed in the many. Consequently it is important to find a way of seeing which is not limited to the manifold aspect, an apprehension which is less avid for an object to grasp, remains open and receptive, and which dares to allow form and that which underlies it to reveal themselves in their own time; a gaze which takes the time to go from a simple surface vision to a deeper, more internal one. There, the ultimate details, the best-hidden and the most mysterious ones, reveal themselves soundlessly, wordlessly. One can discover that matter is not quite so material and dense as we had thought. It is woven of light.

Nathalie Delay


artisans

artisans’ gallery

yoga art


 

investigating the mind through art

Hildy Maze is an artist who sees her practice as an exploration of the workings of the mind. We welcome her, with her contribution of images and reflections on her practice, to the artisans’ gallery.

 

The Awakened Eye: Hildy Maze - Cutting Through

 

[The paper]… Touched in any way there’s a response; a fingerprint, wrinkle, rip, drip or tear, which then becomes texture and language, traces of process and practice as echoes or footprints challenging our conditioned response to things worn, torn, old, wrinkled or ripped as good or bad, acceptable or not acceptable; challenging our dualistic way of seeing the world.

 

The Awakened Eye: Hildy Maze - Rumblings of Nostalgia

 

My work is driven by a curiosity into the investigation of mind thru art. None of us can avoid thoughts, but through awareness of our pitfalls, beauty, strengths and weaknesses we can open windows into the mind. The core of my contemplative art practice is to visually embody the blind spots as a result of our thoughts. I am interested in the study of how the mind works as a means of gaining insight, how we communicate, how we create identity through form, emotions and consciousness, and how we hide in that creation. Essentially this work is about all of us and the empty, clear and unconditional nature of mind we all have.  When we know the nature of our mind we will know the nature of our world.

– Hildy Maze

Images and text ©copyright Hildy Maze
http://hildymaze.com
https://www.facebook.com/hildy.mazestudio
https://theartstack.com/artist/hildy-maze


To read more, and view other examples of Hildy’s work,
please visit her page at the artisans’ gallery


artisans

artisans’ gallery

dharma art – the art of living artfully


From the bookshelf:

Chögyam Trungpa: True Perception - The Path of Dharma Art

True Perception: The Path of Dharma Art


 

the zen of camerawork

Gratitude to Roy Money for his thoughtful offer to share his article Minor White and the Quest for Spirit here, knowing it would be of great interest to readers of this site, and also to Christine Cote, editor and publisher of Still Point Arts Quarterly where the article first appeared. This post is a teaser – you’ll have to click through to the page to read the whole article and view more of White’s photographs. You will not be disappointed!
 

Minor White - Empty Head, 1962

 

Minor White was one of the most influential photographers of the 20th century and he generated considerable controversy in his last years for the promotion of spirituality. I met him early in my introduction to photography and admired his work. I recently renewed my interest in him because of a developing involvement in Zen practice and efforts to explore spirituality in relation to my own photographs.

Minor was not only an important artist but also a teacher, editor and curator, and his language of spirit and spirituality came at a time when it had declining credibility in the art world. Though this language had a certain resonance within the wider cultural scene of the sixties it was an early and continuing theme for White that was no doubt stimulated by the challenge of living as a homosexual in an era before gay rights. Spirituality has long been associated with finding relief from the misfortunes and injustices of the social world, as well as finding purpose in the midst of uncertainty and doubt. Of course spirituality has also been an ageless source of inspiration for artists exploring the uncharted domains of human awareness and creativity.

Many people are unaware of the importance of spiritual and metaphysical issues in the development of modernist art. Indeed there was a reluctance of many artists to talk about this, for fear it would be misunderstood. Picasso is credited with saying “Something sacred, that’s it… We can’t say that… people would put a wrong interpretation on it. And yet it’s the nearest we can get to the truth.” (Lipsey) In that sense Minor White’s concern with spirituality was mostly notable because of ways he made an issue of it. […]

– Roy Money, Minor White and the Quest for Spirit

Continue reading …


Image: Photograph by Minor White, Empty Head, 1962
Sourced from the public domain.


Related pages and posts on this site:

John Daido Loori – let your subject find you

Minor White – equivalence: the perennial trend

Deborah Barlow – the daylighting has begun

Roy Money at the artisans’ gallery


salmon-mind and stream-ing

I would like to offer a warm welcome to the many readers of Phyllis Cole-Dai’s wonderful poetry blog – A Year of Being Here – who followed the links to this website and blog, and who have decided to subscribe. May you find nourishment and inspiration here to accompany you on your way.

This turn of events was uninvited and unexpected. It is deeply appreciated. I offer bows of gratitude to both Phyllis, and Ron C Moss, who made the generous referral.

Recently I posted a piece on another of my sites – wonderingmind studio – which brought interesting feedback from readers whose experience tallied with its theme. I’ve decided to share it here as well, with apologies for the duplication to readers who follow both blogs. It’s a compilation about the adventure into genuine creativity – which always demands a willingness to become hopelessly lost.
I know you know what I mean.


Reflections on creativity, flow, and the not-always-gentle art of unlearning.

 

Ohara Koson 1877 – 1945, Leaping Salmon in a Rapid, Ukiyo-e, 1910

 

Invitations – via courses, retreats and workshops – to “learn how to be in creative flow” are as ubiquitous as those promising “breakthrough experiences of awakening”. I’ve been around both ballparks long enough to have become very sceptical of these claims and promises.  Red herrings are strong swimmers and prolific breeders. Especially when their favourite tucker – yummy money – is flowing.

Can creativity be taught?  Can “awakening” ever be an experience?  These questions are intimately related but I’ll focus on the first one, since this blog is primarily about art and creativity.

My experience, both within my own practice and as a teacher of visual language, constantly confirms that genuine creativity can unfold only when there’s an abandonment of everything one has learned about it.

 

I am trying to check my habits of seeing,
to counter them for the sake of greater freshness.
I am trying to be unfamiliar with what I’m doing.
– John Cage

It seems to me there are two types of “flow”, but only one is truly creative.  One occurs when I’ve slipped into an eddy of old patterns and processes – those that brought me pleasure and profit in the past.  I know where I’m going; it’s easy.  It might even make me feel satisfied that I’ve had a good day in the studio – for a while.  I call this type “phony-flow” for obvious reasons.

Then there’s the other kind of “flow”, the kind that’s hard to write about because you weren’t there when it was underway.  It involves encounters and experiences with the Unknown, and a kind of gracious movement that is closer to stream-ing. When you look at what was created during the movement – whatever your mode of expression might be – what you see astonishes you.  You know without a shadow of doubt that you didn’t do it.  And yet you recognize that this is your most authentic work.

 

I don’t really trust ideas, especially good ones.
Rather I put my trust in the materials that confront me,
because they put me in touch with the unknown.
It’s then that I begin to work…
when I don’t have the comfort of sureness and certainty.
– Robert Rauchenberg

 

Creativity, by definition, implies a leap from the known to the unknown.  It is not the same as innovation, which has its feet firmly planted in the familiar.  Nor is it the same as invention, which implies a desired outcome or end product.  It has no pedagogy or curriculum.  There are no maps of the territory.  The only strategy we can employ, if we are earnest enough, is that of finding out what sabotages its natural expression.*

 

Whatever I know how to do, I’ve already done.
Therefore I do what I do not know how to do.

– Eduardo Chillida

~

I am always doing that which I cannot do,
in order that I may learn how to do it.
– Pablo Picasso

So my personal reaction to courses claiming to cultivate skills to access creative flow isn’t an enthusiastic one. I’m just not interested in exploring notions others might have (no matter what their pedigree) of ways to free my inner artist.  If anything is called for on my via creativa it’s the exile of that artist-ego with its accumulation of ideas, certainties, and its insatiable need for recognition.

Using the metaphor of a stream, it’s easy to understand that “flow” only moves downstream.  And as everyone knows, the source is always upstream.  Floating along in the flow is fine; it’s recreational and maybe allows a brief escape from stress – witness the huge popularity of doodle-books and colouring-in books.  There’s a place for this, of course, but let’s not kid ourselves that we’re being genuinely creative.

 

Remember, a dead fish can float down a stream,
but it takes a live one to swim upstream.
– W.C. Fields

If you ache for the authenticity, the unknowable and artist-vaporising creativity of the Source, forget about flow.  Abandon the “how-to” red herrings.

Adopt salmon-mind.  Make your way upstream.  You know the way – it’s imprinted in your cells.

Leap those rapids. Outwit those hungry bears.

 

My freedom will be so much the greater and more meaningful,
the more narrowly I limit my field of action
and the more I surround myself with obstacles.
– Richard Diebenkorn

How do we fuel our quest upstream? By dismissing irrelevancies (as Buckminster Fuller advised); by finding the questions that have no rational answers yet haunt us nevertheless. By spending a great deal of time in solitude and silence watching the mind’s desperate and insistent groping for certainty, affirmation, context. By the way of unlearning; by abandonment of our pet theories and preferences. Our courage in this quest will inevitably deliver us to the sweet dark pool of ultimate unknowing, and, worn out from the challenges to our sureties, we’ll drop our eggs.  We’ll sink.  The Source will reclaim its own.

Our eggs will hatch, some of them, and be swept downstream to spread the news: it is possible!  It is possible to return to the Source and leave the old life there.  It is possible to dissolve into the stream as it makes its way to the Ocean; to rest in and as its stream-ing, as its authentic expression, without any concern for or notion of, whether we’re “being creative” or not. (If that question is still arising… keep swimming upstream.)

Then we can speak of “flow” – because we’ve experienced that it’s exactly what we are. The one who thought they could (or couldn’t) find it, could tap it for artistic purposes, could promote it or become an expert and sell it – that one was the saboteur all along.

Until salmon-mind set it free.

 

I find my paintings by working on them…
…it is through the making of the paintings that I have many discoveries
which are different from ideas.

~

Painting is a long road.
The beauty to me is in the not knowing where one is going.

~

Perhaps we do not need to understand it all.
– Lawrence Carroll

 


* The series of e-books empty canvas – wondering mind was compiled with this mission in mind.
You can download them for free at wonderingmind studio.


Image: Ohara Koson 1877 – 1945, Leaping Salmon in a Rapid, Ukiyo-e, 1910


From the bookshelf: Where the Heart Beats: John Cage, Zen Buddhism, and the Inner Life of Artists by Kay Larson


 

Agnes Martin: "I paint with my back to the world."

Agnes Martin: I paint with my back to the world.
The last word.


 

the daylighting has begun

The Spiritual Dynamic in Modern Art:
Daylighting an Underground River

Today, a review of Charlene Spretnak’s new book The Spiritual Dynamic in Modern Art, written by the indefatigable, inspirational Deborah Barlow and reblogged from Slow Muse with her kind permission.

 

Charlene Spretnak: The Spiritual Dynamic in Modern Art: Art History Reconsidered, 1800 to the Present

 

Charlene Spretnak is a scholar who has blended interests. She has written books on ecology, ecofeminism, politics (she is a cofounder of the Green Party in the US), art, and spirituality. With a formidable CV and a demonstrated knowledge of art and art history (she has taught art history, inter alia, at the California Institute of Integral Studies), she is not a member however of the anointed art world cognoscenti.

Which is probably why she could write the book I have been waiting to read for years.

The Spiritual Dynamic in Modern Art: Art History Reconsidered, 1800 to the Present, is a much needed counter punch to the predominant narrative about modern art that has squelched this particular story line. While Spretnak does not embrace a conspiratorial view as to why the spiritual has been eliminated from the etiology of contemporary art, she is very thorough in demonstrating that the denial has been both deep and wide. By going to original sources and finding statements made by many prominent artists, both historical and contemporary, she successfully uncovers a significant interest in the spiritual aspects of art making.

As Spretnak begins to unravel this buried story line, she asks a number of her friends—John Walsh, the director of the Getty Museum at the time, and art historian Peter Selz—why the spiritual was frequently denied or squelched. Both answered that question with the exact same words: “We just weren’t taught that way.” With a generosity others might not embrace, Spretnak points to experiments in psychology that have demonstrated that “once someone is educated in a particular frame of reference during his or her formative years, subsequent events and information that do not fit within that framework often do not register.”

Spretnak does nail a few particularly guilty parties, deservedly. Alfred H. Barr, Jr, the first director of the Museum of Art, curated an exhibit called Cubism and Abstract Art in 1936. In that show Barr presented an entirely formalistic interpretive framework for the new art, influenced as he did so by Heinrich Wölfflin‘s principles of “scientific art criticism.” Barr asserted, amazingly, that cubistic and abstracted art arose because “the artists had grown bored with painting facts, that is, naturalistic forms.”

Although his exhibition displayed numerous paintings by artists who had published clear statements about the metaphysical meaning of their art, those were not referred to in his essay in the catalog. The spiritual dimension was simply removed from serious discussion of the art. Not only was this exhibit influential in New York but it then traveled to six cities. By the 1950s the entire history of modern art was framed by the premises of formalism…In this exclusively formalist narrative, the subject matter of the paintings, whether it may have been spiritual or otherwise, is entirely beside the point.

And then of course there was the legacy of formalist art critic Clement Greenberg.

The general attitude that denies a spiritual dimension in modern and contemporary art has, according to Spretnak, “wobbled” a bit in the last few years and is less severe than it was in the 50’s and 60s. But Ken Johnson, writing in the New York Times in 2005, still observed that “Academic art historians and critics still tend to discourage talking seriously about the spiritual in art. But considering how many artists continue to be motivated by spiritual urges, however the word spiritual is defined—this is something worth discussing.”

How that word is defined IS an issue. At a time when religion and spirituality take on so many connotations, it can be problematic. “Some feel the term spirituality has been so stretched out and bounced around by pop culture and the media that it has lost any substantive meaning.” Wisely Spretnak turns to her friend, artist Richard Tuttle, to craft a more useful definition:

Given the vague, and sometimes trivializing, uses of the term in recent decades, I appreciate the artist Richard Tuttle’s comment to me on this matter: “What I want more than anything is a definition of spirituality that is trustworthy.” Indeed—and to be so it must necessarily extend beyond a focus on the self to a sense of our embeddedness in the larger context: the exquisitiely dynamic interrelatedness of existence, the vibratory flux of the subtle realms of the material world, and the ultimate creativity of the universe. The cosmos is infused with an unfolding dynamic of becoming and a unitive dimension of being. Spirituality is the awareness of and engagement with that unity and those dynamics.

Over the last nine years of writing Slow Muse, the theme that underlies so much of what I have covered is in line with Spretnak’s definition of spirituality. This book codifies the many urgings, intuitions and personal proclivities that I have tried to assemble in the content of this blog. So of course I have marked up and underlined every page of this small book, and I read it through twice as a way of grounding Spretnak’s arguments into my nomenclature. Many of her chapter heads are useful categories for moving through a landscape that can feel a bit muddled. Esoteric spirituality, allusive spirituality, the spirituality of immanence—these are useful terms.

This isn’t a book for just browsing. There is so much of value on every single page. The quotes Spretnak has uncovered from several of my favorite artists are ones I’d like to memorize as a way of reminding myself what this mysterious process is really about—not just for my kind of art making, but for the art making of so many others as well.

Once the evidence is truly acknowledged, the history of modern art looks quite different from the proscribed narrative. It is less a linear account than a richly varied landscape, made verdant in numerous places by the great underground river of the spiritual in modern art. Hence the aim of this book is rather like the process in ecological restoration known as “daylighting” underground streams by removing the cement culverts that enclose them and allowing them to be seen in their natural habitats.

I can’t imagine a single reader of Slow Muse [or The Awakened Eye] who wouldn’t love this book.

Finally, the daylighting has begun.

Deborah Barlow

Read the original post at Slow Muse

 


The Spiritual Dynamic in Modern Art: Art History Reconsidered, 1800 to the Present
– Charlene Spretnak


equivalence: the perennial trend

minor white and the quest for spirit