Art and spirituality transcend organized religion to a wholeness in the human experience. "Art has always been central in human life because it has the power to integrate and reveal the wholeness of things," said Daisaku Ikeda in a speech at the Academie des Beaux-Arts, Institut de France, Paris, June 1989.
"Through art, people discover their bonds with each other, with nature, and with the universe," Ikeda continued. "Into all the forms of art is impressed the symbol of ultimate reality. The soul of the artist stretches beyond the physical dimensions of the work to seek union with ultimate reality, to cosmic life. The work is life itself, born of the union of the self and the universe, the microcosm and the macrocosm."
Newport Beach gallerist Brett Rubbico writes, "One finds art and spirituality very closely linked, interconnected, and interdependent. Simple cave drawings through today's modern street art scene effectively communicate powerful messages of spirituality.
"Deeply inspirational art will consummate with a physical experience, emotional feeling, and/or other worldly encounter. These attributes represent the trinity of natural man (created art) and the Trinity of God (Supernatural Spirituality). The spiritual world is real and when sensitivity, execution, and relationship are engaged, developed, and matured artwork is made using these multiple and complex layers.
"Often artists have a profound experience physically or spiritually which must be communicated by making art, other times nature speaks to the artist. From the point before an actual physical artwork is created spirituality has already begun.
"This cyclical process begins with the artist's thought, proceeds to the making of art, and is then released for all others to enjoy and receive in their own subjective spiritual way."
John Gardiner, "Laguna Beach Poet Laureate," lives a life that embraces performance art and spirituality - on the stage and at home. He says, "I love reading in a gallery setting because I'm more aware that the audience, mostly comprised of artists, who will translate my poems into 'colors on a canvas' as opposed to simple oratory performance. We go to the theatre to 'see' plays - the Elizabethans went to the theatre to 'hear' plays."
From John's poem, My Home on a Planet: "I came into the world / with nothing / and will leave with the same / everything I have is a prop / on the stage of my time in this play / and even the character I've been assigned / will leave his costume at the door."
Two Laguna Artists
Sculptor Cheryl Ekstrom says about art and spirituality, "It is only during the actual making of my art that I can experience the freedom of self. A freedom of transcending into an unconscious state of addictive euphoria! My need to experience this feeling is the primary motivation behind all of my endeavors as an artist. When through this experience a work of art can capture that euphoria for the viewer, I feel as though a vulnerable piece of myself has been made visible. When this happens, I believe the process has come full circle."
Installation artist Leah Vasquez adds, "Creating occurs (for me) primarily in a focused, immensely singular event unconscious of itself. It reveals itself only through interruption as self-awareness, bringing forth insight and form. The closest I come to describing my view is spiritual agnosticism: the openness to possibility without doctrine. It is what becomes observed while losing the conscious self. It is focused yet natural, an unexplainable awareness when unaware, without ritual, hierarchy to define it is an appreciation of the unknown with compassion to accept possibility."
Appreciation of Life
"The bottom line of spirituality in art to me is appreciation of life," writes Laguna Woods based Sally Johnson, poet, artist and university staff member. "Art and spirituality aspire to more than the usual known reality. This may mean burrowing the depths of the ordinary, clawing out of the mundane cocoon. Instead of seeking 'A Life Less Ordinary,' art can reveal a single moment manifest, resulting in the profundity of a daily experience.
"The 'now' becomes calmly good enough," Sally adds, "and larger than the life we limit. Once you have pressed the reveal button, the fractals of creativity dance openly and repeat patterns from the largest to the smallest and back again, yet neither explode nor implode."
The Artist’s Imperative
"Art and Spirituality confirms the belief that what one is doing is somehow imperative," says Orange County, CA artist Arie Galles. "Mere commercialism, even for the few who are well known, isn't the fulfillment of one's efforts.
"Somewhere within one's drive, there is a consciousness of the matter of creation being more important than the actual resulting product. Spirituality doesn't interfere or assign work; it is always renewed with each stroke of a brush, pencil, chisel and motion or sound.
"In that state of being one is transported to a reality where time and space is actually bent, where physical exhaustion is nullified by the joy of something that never before existed now coming off the work of one's efforts."
Janice Tieken, Ventura, California artist, misses the vibrant Los Angeles art scene. Yet, the merging of art and spirituality bring her to serenity and joy. "Making art transcends the pragmatic daily chores of life and takes me into another realm where a non-verbal, unconscious and peaceful aura exists. I forget all the strife of the political fray, the list I call 'The Great Undone,' conflicts and missteps with others.
"When an orchid blossom was drooping on a plant residing on my dining room table, I found myself feeling an empathy for its anthropomorphic suggestion of sorrow or resignation. Thus began an exploration into this unusual flora that is bilaterally symmetrical as are we, and as well has distinctly erotic-seeming structures that amuse or suggest. This series was named 'Orchid Requiem' (pictured above). The venous pathways, not unlike our own, that carried their life juices were revealed as they died and dried. For me and some others, they appeared to fly or dance or posture a mood. It became a metaphor for the interrelationship of all living things.
Art is About Life
"So art is profoundly about life for me. It is in life that our spirit exists and what some would call spiritual is recognizing that we are not alone in our quests to live here and do what we do."
Allison Queen, Culver City, California based publicist, comments succinctly on art and spirituality: "I think most of the spirituality in art is in the making of art, with the artwork simply being the byproduct."
(See also How to Look at Art, What is Art and Why is Art Important.)