Earth as the Great Work of Art

Gorgeous tulips from the garden, gifts from the Earth, Pachamama. Earth, art, eARTh. Earth and art, together. Healing our hearts, heARTs, and our world. Every day is EARTH day.

Beannacht / Blessing
–John O’Donohue

On the day when
the weight deadens
on your shoulders
and you stumble,
may the clay dance
to balance you.
And when your eyes
freeze behind
the grey window
and the ghost of loss
gets in to you,
may a flock of colours,
indigo, red, green,
and azure blue
come to awaken in you
a meadow of delight.

When the canvas frays
in the currach of thought
and a stain of ocean
blackens beneath you,
may there come across the waters
a path of yellow moonlight
to bring you safely home.

May the nourishment of the earth be yours,
may the clarity of light be yours,
may the fluency of the ocean be yours,
may the protection of the ancestors be yours.
And so may a slow
wind work these words
of love around you,
an invisible cloak
to mind your life.

Among the Trees

A little inspiration from poet Mary Oliver today. Remember to walk slowly and bow often during this beautiful season of rebirth and renewal. New friendship tulips blooming in the garden!

When I Am Among the Trees
by Mary Oliver

When I am among the trees,
especially the willows and the honey locust,
equally the beech, the oaks and the pines,
they give off such hints of gladness,
I would almost say that they save me, and daily.

I am so distant from the hope of myself,
in which I have goodness, and discernment,
and never hurry through the world
but walk slowly, and bow often.

Around me the trees stir in their leaves
and call out, “Stay awhile.”
The light flows from their branches.

And they call again, “It’s simple,” they say,
“and you too have come
into the world to do this, to go easy, to be filled
with light, and to shine.”

Theosis and Sacred Art

Reading Alex Grey’s Art Psalms as I begin my days in the studio. His voice and vision encourage me to go on in spite of lingering fears around the challenges of making a living as an artist (and a spiritual artist!) in this world especially within the current economic climate. Making a living these days is difficult enough for many here and abroad and with so many cutbacks, the arts and all creative sectors have been hurt badly. However, once we answer the call there is no going back and it takes fierce courage to stay the course. I believe if we as artists answer that sacred call, it is important to nurture your relationship to the Divine, the universal creative energy that guides each of us, and continue to walk ‘confidently in the direction of [our] dreams’ to quote Thoreau. It’s what is being asked of us during this evolutionary time where new ways of being are emerging as old structures break down. Never give up on your dreams….I love the first line of this mystical rant as he calls them. Art CAN transform the way we see ourselves and the world. Yes!

From “Theosis” by Alex Grey

Art can transform the way we see ourselves and the world.
Sacred art has always depended on this possibility.
Theosis means coming closer to God by contemplation of icons.
New ways of seeing lead to new ways of being.
When your being is transformed,
The world occuring to you transforms.

Contemplation of a Buddha or Christ
Implants the possibility of our own enlightenment.
Icons of a United World, a Sacred Plant
Are essential now, to implant
The possibility of saving our collective lives,
Reverencing our Mother Nature Goddesself,
The One WorldSpirit of all plants and creatures.

Note: There is another stanza between these and I highly recommend buying the book in support of your sacred art calling. As an artist, I try to be mindful of copyright laws for other artists as well even though there is so much available on the web.

Aesthetic Religion

Beat Beatrix by Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828-1882)

One of my favorite books and a treasured companion in the studio is Umberto Eco’s History of Beauty. An historical and philosophical exploration around the notion of beauty over the ages through the visual and literary arts. Referring to the mid-19th century, Eco writes:

Confronted with the oppressiveness of the industrial world, the expansion of the metropolis swarming with immense anonymous crowds, the appearance of new classes whose urgent needs certainly did not include aesthetics, and offended by the form of the new machines that stressed the pure functionality of new materials, artists felt that their ideals were threatened and saw the democratic ideals that were gradually making headway as inimical. Thus they decided to make themselves ‘different.’ This led to the formation of an authentic aesthetic religion, and amid a spirit of Art for Art’s Sake the idea became established that Beauty was a primary value to be realized at all costs, to such a point that many thought that life itself ought to be lived as a work of art.

This movement towards the aesthetic was a response by artists such as Dickens and Rossetti to the ugliness they experienced with the rise of industrialization and expanding capitalism. Artistic movements come and go throughout history but this particular period resonates for me in its devotion to Beauty as a “primary value.” These visionaries from the past speak to my own artistic vision and life’s journey. Call me a romantic! I am. With the rise of our technological and consumer society, contemporary artists have an opportunity to reclaim what might be defined as a neo-aesthetic religion. Like those artists before us who believed in the “religion of beauty,” I believe it is time once again to bring beauty back into the conversation pertaining to art and as a relevant contribution within the art historical landscape. With the evolutionary shifts that are occurring now around the globe, now more than ever, beauty through the arts can be a call to awaken the human heart and inspire the soul. In the words of the late philosopher John O’Donohue:

When we awaken to the call of beauty, we become aware of new ways of being in the world. We were created to be creators. At its deepest heart, creativity is meant to serve and evoke beauty. When this desire and capacity come alive, new wells spring up in parched ground; difficulty becomes invitation and rather than striving against the grain of our nature, we fall into rhythm with its deepest urgency and passion. The time is now ripe for beauty to surprise and liberate us. From “Beauty: The Invisible Embrace”

Check out the art and beauty of Rod MacIver’s work at Heron Dance

Note: For the other side of the story, check out Eco’s On Ugliness.