Charles Sprague Pearce (1851–1914). Photographed 2007 by Carol Highsmith
“A life is either all spiritual or not spiritual at all. No man can serve two masters. Your life is shaped by the end you live for. You are made in the image of what you desire.”
~ Thomas Merton ~
Just because an artist paints, draws, writes, dances or plays music doesn’t automatically make them someone “spiritual”. Many artists we meet are more concerned with the status of their bank accounts than with the “spirit” and the “intangible” in their work. Artists will disguise themselves and their art as being “spiritually oriented” because they feel that it will bring them more customers and sales. As Merton says we are made in the image of what we desire.
Good vs Bad Art
I have always said that there really is no good and bad in art. Art is what it is. Not everyone sees the life changing potential in their creativity because everything in their life is often viewed separately and not as a whole. Art is something they do as a hobby at night or on the weekends. Creativity is lived separate from everything else in ther lives and not a part of who they feel they are. Art is just an activity like playing hockey, cutting the grass or going to the park with the kids.
Who are we?
In ancient times the witch, the alchemist and the artist were all the same person. We are defined today by our jobs, our household roles and by our gender and not by who we are as a whole person.
In today’s world creativity in the arts has become more about “going through the motions” rather than the whole creative process. Art education has become compartmentalized. Classes have become increasingly “technique” oriented and less focused on the creative aspects of art making. This turn towards the science of art is just a reflection of our worlds lack of interest in spirituality. As Merton says, we cannot serve two masters…either we are interested in something greater than ourselves or we are not.
For most true artists, art is not viewed as something separate from themselves. Art is and always will be intrinsically a part of their life.