Art, Spirit & Expression

by Amy Martin  (c)

Question posed by Texas Faith: What is the connection between religion and art?

What is art? Nature concentrated.” ~ Honore de Balzac

To a Taoist, and to those who consider themselves spiritually unaffiliated, stellar examples of nature are our inspirational architecture, as well as our holy places. There are mountains that inspire with majesty and evergreens forests of reverent contemplation, of course, but for me it is the endless night sky and the awe it imparts, the way it stretches our conception of time and place in the universe.

“Creativity requires faith. Faith requires that we relinquish control.” – Julia Cameron

I think a core value of many spiritual not religious people is that to truly embrace the divine one must move beyond words into doing. In my house and yard there are no less than a dozen art-altars of spiritual symbols and statuary, meaningful objects and whatever else it takes to coax the sacred into my life. Many change with the seasons and my own spiritual development. Those outside eventually relinquish themselves to the natural world in graceful decay. This is my art, for at the heart of being human is the need to creatively express.

“Art is a collaboration between God and the artist, and the less the artist does the better.” ~ Andre Gide

In the act of creation we mirror the divine manifestation of the world. Facing the blank canvas, page or stage we draw forth from within ourselves ineffable visions that we craft into tangible, audible, viewable things. When I am in the flow of creativity as a writer, it is the same as a spiritual experience. Awe at the forces greater than myself, intimacy in partnership with the unseen, and feeling in touch with the absolute core of what it means to be alive, to be human, bringing home why the word “religion” comes from the Latin “ligare,” or connect, and means to re-connect.

published August 16, 2011 in Texas Faith religion blog of The Dallas Morning News