Is Art Prayer?

Are we praying when we create? Who or what do we attribute our creativity? How does our spiritual life impact our creative life or vise versa? Is the work we create our way of saying thank you? Meister Echart said, “If the only prayer you say in your life is thank you. It will be enough.”

I wrote a post in April titled, “Going to Church with Mark Rothko”. I had been in Houston at the annual conference for the Global Alliance for Art and Health. One of the sites to see was the Rothko Chapel. It’s a glorious sanctuary with large works of his hanging on the walls. The chapel is quiet with benches and meditation cushions. It’s a place where you can be with Rothko’s larger than life presence, his art, and with your larger than life presence, you!

On Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday, she interviewed Rainn Wilson. Many people know Rainn Wilson from his years on NBC’s The Office. This is one of those interviews when you realize how little we often know about those in the public eye. We think we know people because we read a People magazine article or a fifteen second blurb on Entertainment Tonight, but most interviews don’t give the individual the time to explore and express their inner life.

Wilson was quite articulate about his personal life and his beliefs. What caught my attention was when Wilson said, “Taking a paint brush and touching it to the canvas is no different than bowing your head in church.” It was so profound and poetic. It meshed with my own beliefs about art and spirituality and how they are one in the same.

Going to our studios is like going to a chapel. It’s a sacred space that gives us the freedom to express ourselves with purity of heart. Our moments of creativity are transcendent. I believe that any time you can express yourself completely, authentically, and honestly you are in the presence of the divine.

It may sound funny, but I’ve been having this inner dialogue about “giving up pretty” and “striving for meaning”. It’s not that pretty and meaning can’t cohabitate, but I’m starting to think it can’t always be the lead story of the day.

Some may say I’m preaching, and this may sound like a sermon, but the reality is this is my time of ultimate self-expression. This is when I can convey and share some of my deepest thoughts openly. Writing has become a practice, a place where meaning prevails, exploration is key, and peace prevails!

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Make Your Mark

I doodle! I love to scribble little designs in notebooks, on post-its, even grocery lists. One of my favorite things is buy packages of colored pens and I’ll write in different colors. I don’t do this with any design, more to differentiate between thought processes. If I’m taking notes I change colors every time I start reading a new book.

As a textile artist I make marks whenever I create. I make marks with my sewing machine and by hand, each time the mark is intentional. I work with a heightened level of consciousness. When making marks I feel the life force course through my veins affirming life!

How important is mark making? According to Anne Lamott, noted author and speaker, mark making is critical for self-expression. It is the root of our message, and provides us with a way to pray without speaking. As an author, Lamott’s recommendation is that you write a sentence every day. It’s this level of commitment and continuity that will expand your world. It doesn’t matter what your medium is, making a mark on a daily basis is important for your health and well being.

One of the things about mark making is that it’s like a snowball rolling down a hill. The more you make your mark, the more you’ll want to make your mark. You’ll find that the more you engage in mark making, the more expressive each one becomes. You’ll see a story taking form; your story! It is the incentive we all need to continue on our journey to ultimate self-expression.

The marks we make eventually get left behind as evidence of our body, mind, and spirit and its impact on the world. The mark is like those doing genealogy accept that the family tree is really your tree of life. It represents all your experiences, wisdom, and philosophies.

Don’t be afraid to make your mark on the world. We need what you have to offer to heal our souls and the Universe!

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