Sunday, July 7, 2013

...from the awakening person

Sunday morning musing...

Of the myriad things written about art what speaks to you?


Anonymous said...

love it x

Valerianna said...

I love the first few lines, I've thought the same myself, that many artists think that art comes from art... I've never agreed with this. I'm not sure I'd have used the idea of the "awakening person", but, its something to ponder!

Sophie Munns said...

hello Robyn,
interesting hey!

Hi Valerianna,

I wonder about his japanese sensibility and if this is reflected in this statement... and how much!
Interesting what you say...

Awakening is used frequently in terms of so and so having a "political awakening" when such and such happened. Perhaps with the spiritual it is more sensitive a matter... related to perceptions.

ArtPropelled said...

In the last 10 years or so I've considered my art process to be an awakening of sorts. I've actually given it a lot of thought but haven't quite been able to put my feelings into words. I definitely feel a link to something spiritual as I work. It's personal. Not everyone feels this. Another thing I've observed is if my completed pieces are sold quickly and my studio or home is empty of my own work it's difficult to get going again. Just lately I've been holding on to a few pieces because i miss having them around and they definitely act as a spring board to the next piece. In that respect my art grows out of my own art. The Noguchi quote has given me food for thought..... and of course I LOVE his work!Thanks Sophie.

Sophie Munns said...

Great to read your thoughts on this Robyn! Makes sense what you say of the work leaving... and if it all goes there's a vacuum of sorts. Your sculpture is I imagine not something that can be produced quickly,,, they are so tangible and present and to have them all gone would be a really clear absence.

With paintings one can have small works or work on paper, reproductions or old canvases lying around ... I do understand that sense of a work needing to be with you for a time though!

The spiritual is perhaps experienced very differently by some and not at all by others. Finding words, as you say, can be difficult. Maybe my sense of the spiritual has shifted over years ... I do like to glean how it is for different people and cultural beliefs... to notice what seems to be common across humanity and what is not. I think I am drawn to certain poetic tellings of life with spirit... ranging from. e.g., Maori mythology to Rumi to the poetry of various ones and so on. Certain images hinting at something might resonate. Biological diversity, the cosmos, so many things gives me a sense of the mystery of life and the infinite.

Much to ponder. Lovely to hear from you Robyn... will respond to your other comment now!

Mlle Paradis said...

oh i like this! on the other hand, i do think good art feeds good art - as your blog (and all your online activities) so wonderfully demonstrates. but i am so not about closed systems. happy week to come!

Mlle Paradis said...

just read "art propelleds" comment about work leaving. couldn't agree more - because with our work we are on a bit of a journey - whether it's an awakening or a journey of discovery or having a conversation with ourselves and when that conversation is waking up from a dream before it's "over"'s hard to tap back into. sometimes we have to engage in new dreams or conversations before we can circle back..

but now i'm getting all the metaphors mixed up!

Blue Sky Dreaming said...

Awakening...I agree. Art making for me is a spiritual journey...impossible for me to believe otherwise. I love Robyn's words...I have found it so important to live with my work, celebrate or listen to it but mostly have it out and with me. Thank you for this post..very thought provoking.

Sophie Munns said...

Completely understood what you were getting at Mlle Paradis... "like waking at the dream before its over" ...picking up on Robyn at Art Propelled's wonderful comments.

What I was reminded from your comments also was how we each have our own journey with unique meanings and understandings of our purpose and the words we us to describe it ... my journey threads through many journals, and online, and on bits of paper as well as on individual canvases ... being so process oriented the conversation is often carried through and doesn't exist quite as much in one unique work as opposed to another. Also can be months, even years later that a work gains in significance for me. At the time I sometimes don't like the work which pushes somewhere new might seem too raw and unlovely...I then may reject that work... not value it yet later I see in it the key to something of great value. Going through all my stuff recently i saw the ideas threading through the work over years and I'm so glad I've not let go of this material... so again... more of a process-oriented thing than end result in art work.

This quote opens up surprisingly big, even paradoxical questions through his particular emphasis ... a good thing when we can so easily assume we all think the same or understand words and ideas the same way.

Suddenly i am remembering a huge exhibition and book that was published in the early 80s in California about the "Spiritual in Art" ... a huge square publication. I'd have to do a google search to find the proper title. I nearly bought a copy on Amazon but borrowed it from the library a few times instead. When I started the Masters in 2007 I read it extensively again after reading it in 2000 after my house fire.

It described the geneology of spiritual beliefs and artist's journeys ... the clusters of artists arounds certain beliefs and so on... and how certain beliefs manifested in certain visual explorations and tendencies. This is probably the reason I don't see the term spiritual as a blanket for one big idea we all agree on if that makes sense.

The part that blew my mind was where they exposed how Hitler had picked up on certain spiritual teachings and peverted those teachings into his own very perverse systems of thought and as a result many, many artists publicly rejected spirituality for a long time afterwards. I was struck completely but the depth of wounding for artists around this. I read painstakingly through this section of the book to understand just what a colossal impact it had on people.

Each chapter was written by different individuals or collaborated on... and the level of research and sensitive information beautifully and accessibly written... I found it spell-binding really.

The foundation for my Homage to the Seed project lies in no small way with the writings of Paul Klee... a very spiritually engaged individual for whom seeds, plants and gardens were really the central motif of his work. He was deeply versed in Steiner and Anthroposophy and before that Geothe whom Steiner was deeply very drawn to... and before that ? I was very interested that Kandinsky stayed immersed in Steiner's teachings but Klee departed at a certain point... separated out from certain ideas perhaps.

So when you mention systems its interesting that Noguchi made that statement because he came from a country whose political system was tied up with spiritual beliefs that were so devastating for that country and others.

Maybe thats why I like Ben Okri's way of talking about the spiritual as "a feeling for the mystery of life" ... it transcends human systems of spiritual belief and is less assuming or dogmatic which many beliefs can be.

Thanks for your two thoughtful comments! You got my brain working this fine Monday morning thats for sure!

Sophie Munns said...

Delighted you have visited and commented today Maryanne.
I can see how your work is saturated in a relationship you have with life across the ages... an appreciation for the symbolic and timelessness of the cultural legacies of the world. In a way you and Robyn are perhaps both engaged in making work that is totemic.

I hope I'm not representing you in a false way... you might think differently. But its like you are remembering and reframing perrennial things so they live again and are celebrated and honoured. Its a very beautiful form of art practice... it calls for stillness and in this fast age is very grounding indeed!

Sophie Munns said...

Warm thanks to everyone who has commented here!

When I put this quote up and asked the question I wondered if there would be comments. Not only have your comments been thought-provoking but they have reminded me of the the experience of visiting your respective blogs and the very unique expressions of ideas that directly or indirectly intimate the spiritual or a quality of soulfulness and/or a sense of awakening. We might not all have the same meanings for certain words and ideas...but I do believe the reason blogs speak to us is for the passion that underlies the sharing of ideas.

We share things beyond the rational whichever way we do it... many things inform our unique ways of seeing. This reminds me of the experience of being at a book club where each person responds to the subject and adds or clarifies their thinking as they go along.

It's a luxury many of us have at this time to cultivate the ideas and beliefs that feel right for us as individuals ... to have the freedom to think and inquire, to seek out that which resonates and informs, to make art and to think about that without need to belong to any one system! That has so not been the situation for many throughout history.

I greatly appreciate your responses and the way they offer a counterpoint for my own thinking. Being prompted to recall that important book, how it engaged me and offered complex yet accessible readings for the 20th century explorations of the spiritual in Art was timely.

Getting into the process of writing a book just now all the different lenses that one can investigate and explore seeds though are crucial to ponder. I'm profoundly interested in how different disciplines and ways of seeing cross over and inform each other... its very crucially about inter-relationships... but first up one has to name the particularities, separate things out, not miss something crucial if wanting to be telling the whole story.

And so I will be taking something very valuable away from this discussion.


Anonymous said...


I hesitated to comment at all because each and every one had such important, poetic, and valuable things to say. Fantastic conversation!

So first: let me start by saying "thank you".

I am writing my "artist statement" and pondering the act of making art. I have been juggling and struggling with how to describe the it What is it? is it explorations of an idea? Is it a spiritual act? a language? what does it do ? does it describe something?

What I keep coming back to is that it might just be a conversation with one's self and the world. A visual way of talking about our experience. The word spiritual seems so apt because I believe it is one of the few words in the English language that describes the the physical and emotional sensation of making art.

Is it the best word? I'm not really sure. Perhaps because of the way it has been twisted and overused by certain groups. In the US, the word spiritual can be really "Loaded". But...perhaps to take that word and own it in one's own way is an act of "taking it back" from the twisters and the loaders. To redefine it in a way that isn't exclusive and make it inclusive.

As I ponder Noguchi's use of the word "awakening", I want to substitute it with or include the word "understanding". I think both Robyn and Sophie touch on some very important things. Sculpting and working with metal or clay for that matter are more labor intensive than drawing or painting (at least for me). It takes so long to get from point A to point B.

One has a sense that you are collaborating with the material instead of forcing it to do "your will". And often, a person discovers that the material is a much better artist.

By working with the materials natural "ways of being", an individual can come to a solution that is totally unexpected.

I believe there is value in that process. I try to take the information and experience I gain in that collaborative process and use it in the rest of my life, outside of the art making.

Thank you again for a fantastic moment thinking.
I can't wait for Sophie's book to emerge.