Spirituality in Art

I’ve been thinking about how my own spirituality does or does not affect my work, and also about how interconnected it traditionally is, so I wanted to see how other artists combined these two aspects of their lives. I thought that this time of year would be a good time for these particular reflections due to the large number of religious holidays and the traditional New Year’s look back on the past.

It’s easy to see how renaissance artists primarily used religious subject matter in their work, though many times this was because the church was such a huge patron.  But if you go back before that to the middle ages, you see a much more personal connection between religion and art.  In general people were more connected to religion in their daily lives through festivals, masses and due to generally all belonging to the same denomination.   So it seems natural that art would be infused with spirituality.  Of course once again the church would be the largest patron during this time as well.  One thing that really struck while taking an art history of the middle ages course was the belief that talents were God-given and thus should be developed and used in order to be in accordance with God’s plan.  (This of course makes one wonder about those people who are gifted as criminal masterminds…)

This idea was actually one the things that stayed in the back of my mind and helped to lead me back to making jewelry.  I don’t really think that my work has an obvious religious bent to it, but I do try to bring about some the ideas of ceremony that has traditionally been associated with religious art.  I’m not going to get into my specific beliefs here, so don’t worry about any conversionary tactics.  But I do think that the more I try to bring spirituality into my daily life, the more it is brought into the making of my work.  I find being able to make art to be a soul affirming practice, and in this way I feel spiritually connected while in the process (at least if I’ve gotten in “the zone”).

Most of the people who did respond to my poll said that spirituality either sometimes or often played a role in their art making.  One respondent said that she found that more and more her art is influenced by her spiritual beliefs and Susie Monday said,

I think as artists we can find such rich imagery, connection to cultural heritage and tradition, and personal meaning in working from our spiritual connections.

Another really interesting idea came through one of my tweeps (who is also in the CHL), Daniel Klotz, who mentioned “deus absconditus,” or God in the background.  He gave me a link to a site that goes more in depth into this subject and I found it very interesting.  Using overt religious imagery “reveals not Him, deus omnes, but only the author’s conception — nay, merely the author’s selection — of God.”

One final example came from Leah Piken Kolidas from Creative Every Day.  I’ve often found her work to have spiritual meaning for me, but not to have a particularly religious bent to it, much how I think of my work.  She gave me a link to an interview she did with Abbey of the Arts that goes into more detail about how spirituality plays a role in her art.

Basically, it seems that if spirituality plays an important role in your life, and if your art also plays an important role, they seem to influence each other in some way.  I know that isn’t so profound, but that doesn’t make it any less true.  While I have no plans to make my work into overt expressions of my beliefs, the practice of making it will grow more and more spiritually in tune, hopefully, as I continue to make it an important part of my daily life.

So how about you?  Are you ready yet to let us know your ideas on how your beliefs do or do not influence your work?

About Wendy Edsall-Kerwin

Metal. To many it is hard, rigid, and immovable. But metal flows, bends, and can be worked over and over again. It is both industrial and
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3 Responses to Spirituality in Art

  1. acrawley63 says:

    Hi Wendy,

    I found your blog via Clint Watson on Twitter. Your post on spirituality and art struck a chord with me. For some time I didn’t want my work to have a “spiritual” connotation because I was confusing “spiritual” with “religion.” Yet when I finally accepted that my spirit messengers and icons (so recently named) did indeed represent some form of spirituality on some level with my customers, the work and their creation flowed much more easily.

    I believe that most artists infuse their work with spirit on some level. We just all interpret it (spirit) differently.

    -Amy

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  2. Ed P says:

    Hi Wendy

    As a “spiritual artist” there is definitely a spiritual side to the art I produce.
    While my work does have a spiritual feel to it, it doesn’t promote any particular religion. If people can get a better understanding of their inner selves by viewing my work, then I’ve done my job. If the work inspires a person to think about their own religion and become more spiritual, then it’s been a benefit to them.
    Another aspect you might consider, Wendy. When people view a piece of art, jewellery or sculptor, are they linking what the see with an inner memory or vision they hold dear. When a person connects with a piece of art, is it a spiritual connection?

    *Ed P

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    • hammermarks says:

      Ed, That’s a great point! Anything can have great spiritual value to an individual if it can connect with them in a meaningful way. Maybe art is somehow better suited to that purpose because it means so much to the creator as well.

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