Art and spirituality are neither mutually exclusive nor mutually co-existent. Art can exist outside of an artist’s spirituality and/or outside of a viewer/experiencer’s spirituality. Art can simply be a creation born of sensation, creativity, a desire to replicate a feeling or a sight or sound, or even an homage to the past. All of these can be devoid of any spiritual meaning or influence. However, in many cases, art has been both created and experienced in the presence of or under the influence of spirituality. Artist and Gallery owner Shelly Phillips explains it by describing that her best work stems from a place deep within her soul – inside of her innermost being, and that she uses that deep place to avoid the criticism and judgement of others who are viewing her art and experiencing her art. Using her spiritual perspective, she is able to garner a spiritual connection with her work and with those who share in the joy of her finished pieces. (Phillips, 2012). This artist obviously feels a spiritual connection to the process of creating as well as to the finished work of art, both hers and those of other artists she displays in her Colorado gallery.
Another take on how art and spirituality are intertwined comes from a more formalized spiritual tradition: Westport Presbyterian Church. This happens to be a church of the Christian religion, but its sentiment is likely shared by religions of all types. The church states on their website that they feel like there is an intersection between spirituality and art – that the many spiritual ideas that people have can only be communicated via artful mediums such as song, dance, writing, sculpture, painting, and all of the other wonderful forms of artistic expression (Westport, 2016). This is a valid point – the intersection of communicative acts that represent intangible sensations, thoughts, ideals, feelings, emotions, and visions are most easily represented through various media as art.
While art does not have to represent or be created under the auspices of spirituality, it is often done so with amazing and inspirational results.
- Phillips, Shelley. (2010). How art and spirituality become one. The Huffington Post. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/shelly-metz/how-art-and-spirituality_b_449657.html
- Westport Presbyterian Church. (2016). Arts & spirituality. Retrieved from http://www.westportpresbyterian.org/arts-spirituality/