to practice an existential art


Making art is difficult. We leave drawings unfinished and stories unwritten. We do work that does not feel like our own. We repeat ourselves. We stop before we have mastered our materials, or continue on long after their potential is exhausted. Often the work we have not done seems more real in our minds than the pieces we have completed. And so questions arise: How does art get done? Why, often, does it not get done? And what is the nature of the difficulties that stop so many who start? These questions, which seem so timeless, may actually be particular to our age. Today artwork does not emerge from a secure common ground: the bison on the wall is someone else’s magic. Making art now means working in the face of uncertainty; it means living with doubt and contradiction, doing something no one much cares whether you do, and for which there may be neither audience nor reward. Making the work you want to make means setting aside these doubts so that you may see clearly what you have done, and thereby see where to go next. Making the work you want to make means finding nourishment within the work itself. This is not the Age of Faith, Truth, and Certainty……Ted Orland & David Bayles

all of that second-guessing, ritualizing, and self-important agonizing can be soothed through color and play….this is our spiritual witness….to be slave to the incessant living of this life…..

Our relentless human search for new ways of being and relating, our dreams of beauty, our longings for mercy and justice, these are exercises of the imagination……Wendy Wright

please make art

The arts help expand our ways of knowing God beyond the cognitive level. They ope up paths for listening to new possibilities. They especially help us tend to times of discernment, when images are being birthed within us before we have the language for them. Experiences calling us to discernment often subvert our everyday worlds and carry us out into the experience of wilderness and disorientation. Our words cannot yet carry the weight of the new meanings being born in the darkness of anti-structure. Engaging the arts helps us to connect to the voice of our authentic selves. The arts honor possibility, imagination, questions, and mystery that are integral to discernment. Because the arts are rooted in the existential capacity of the imagination to transcend literal reality, they can serve to present alternative possibilities of being and afford us insights not available through cognitive means…..Christine Valters Paintner

2 thoughts on “to practice an existential art

  1. Love this………….. reminds me of times I’ve gone to the porch with the burden of life filling my arms……… engrossed in the worry that I couldn’t see the beauty of the day. Almost always, a gentle reminder comes – a warm breeze, a tiny bird, a dancing butterfly, a wisp of dandelion….

    my burdens lessened
    by the humming of the light
    bees returning home

    • a sensual call to opening again and again…..I am reading ‘The Blue Sapphire of the Mind,’ a beautiful response to the connection between spirituality and ecology….’contemplative ecology’……your porch time is a microcosm of this knowing dear Bobbie…….

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