1-4 of 4 Results  for:

  • Keywords: spirituality x
  • Religion and Art x
Clear all

Article

Spirituality and Contemporary Art  

Rina Arya

The artworks under discussion detail the scope and breadth of art that can be described as spiritual by virtue of its revelatory, revitalizing and contemplative capacities. Rather than interrogating the relationship between art and religion, more pertinent questions in the contemporary age are: What is the nature of the dialogue between art and spirituality, how do the two come together, and what form does the meeting take? The range of multimedia brings novel forms of encounter that occur outside the gallery and other spaces and involve audio-visual and other means of articulating the spiritual. These new forms make different demands on viewers; they create greater intimacy (often through immersion), both physically and psychologically, and one of the consequences of having greater intimacy can be a heightened awareness that increases presentness and a sense of embodiment. What we learn is that there are potentially as many interpretations of spirituality as there are viewers.

Article

Ecofeminism, Religion, and the Arts in the West  

Jane Caputi

Since its inception in the 1970s, ecofeminism has maintained a persistent and extensive engagement with the arts. This manifests itself when theorists take up analyses of ecologically relevant worldviews enmeshed in works from the fine arts, literary texts, musical compositions, political activist art, and popular and commercial arts. Many writers, composers, and artists also produce ecofeminist works (implicitly or explicitly). The curator of the 2020 exhibit ecofeminism(s), Monika Fabijanska, lambasted “Western patriarchal philosophy and religions” that legitimate both misogyny and ecocide. In her view, “the foundation of ecofeminism is spiritual feminism, which insists that everything is connected . . . nature does not discriminate between soul and matter.” In the branch of ecofeminism that pays close attention to spirituality and religion, some seek to reclaim and/or generate an ecofeminist theology, often by invoking a non-heteropatriarchal and decolonial understanding of Mother Nature/Mother Earth as the original terrestrial force/source. This force/source contains female, male, and everything else, and holds powers of creation, destruction, transformation, and rebirth. Art historian Mary Garrard observes that Western culture demoted Nature from a “power” to an “environment.” Arguably, this has been to eliminate a rival, as the ruling notion of God is purely male, a father, heavenly, transcendent, the sole and omnipotent creator, and, as prophesied in the New Testament, the ultimate righteous destroyer of the elements and Earth. Ecofeminism has evolved to become more pointedly anti-essentialist, intersectional, and decolonial as it makes connections between men’s violence against women (including both trans and cis women) and other marginalized peoples and the treatment of land, animals, plants, and elements. Ecofeminist theorists and artists demand total social, political, and spiritual transformation. Many also acknowledge that the active and intelligent life force/source (sometimes called Mother Nature/Mother Earth) is changing irrevocably in response to the egregious actions of some humans. What is especially apparent in the fusion of ecofeminist and Afrofuturist perspectives is that the exigencies of the current environmental crisis demand awareness that nature is and always has been the “power,” including the power that is understood as God.

Article

Visual Arts: Modern Art  

Jonathan A. Anderson

The dominant histories of 19th- and 20th-century art in the West have tended to depict modernism as making deep and decisive breaks from religious thought, practices, and institutions. There are good reasons for scholars seeing the history this way. On the one hand, the development of modern art coincided with major sociocultural shifts that deeply reshaped not only religion (as established religious traditions became increasingly contested and pluralized) but also the functions of art itself, which thrived in forms and spaces that seemed significantly detached from religious subjects, patronage, and purposes. On the other hand, there were also significant theoretical factors shaping the ways that religion was presented—or often conspicuously not presented—in the writing of modern art history. An especially strong secularization theory (a sociological thesis positing that a society’s modernization necessarily entails its secularization) has tended to dominate the scholarship of modernism, coupled with a heavy reliance on critical models that privilege highly suspicious hermeneutics (in the lineages of Marxian, Nietzschean, and Freudian critical theory), which tend to dismantle whatever “religious” content persists in modern art into questions of social power, ressentiment, sublimated desire, and so on. In all these ways, religious traditions became largely invisible and unreadable in the history of modernism, even in cases where they were important factors. Since the 1990s, however, several of the key historical and theoretical underpinnings of this depiction of modernism have been increasingly called into question, and a more complicated, ambiguous picture is emerging—one in which modern art and religion remain deeply entangled in fascinating and confusing ways. There are various ways of identifying and understanding these entanglements, which require not only careful reexamination of the particularities of the histories involved but also reconsideration of the interpretive assumptions and priorities through which those histories are construed. There are at least five focal points where the nexuses of art and religion are being reexamined and brought more clearly into view in the histories of modernism—namely, through object-oriented, practice-oriented, artist-oriented, context-oriented, and/or concept-oriented studies of particular instances in those histories. These focal points provide concrete loci for perceiving and exploring the functions, formations, and effects of “religion in modern art”—an inquiry which also can be reversed to explore examples of “modern art in religion,” including instances where major artworks are situated in churches, cathedrals, synagogues, and other religious contexts. There are, however, varying ways that scholars interpret what they find at these focal points and how they discern the larger implications of these particular entanglements of art and religion in the history of modern and contemporary art. These differences are clarified by recognizing at least four interpretive horizons—anthropological, political, spiritual, and theological—within which scholars are understanding these focal points and rereading these histories. Though often diverging in the accounts they produce, these four horizons (and the potential interplay between them) are vital for a continued rethinking of the relations between modern art and religion.

Article

Contemporary Visual Art and Religion  

Dominic Colonna

Contemporary visual art that uses themes and symbols of particular religious traditions has the potential to alienate both those who are adherents of those traditions and those who are non-adherents. Such art is often characterized as sentimental, superstitious, naïve, exclusivist, or triumphalist by modern standards of judgment. At the same time, efforts to avoid exclusivism or triumphalism in contemporary visual art can render the meanings of works so vague that it is hard to identify a work with any particular religion. For these reasons and more, the art world tends to disparage the benign use of religious themes and symbols in art and tends to accept works that are transgressive—that is, art that transgresses the boundaries of religious decorum. Material and visual culture studies provide ways for the art world to find value in and analyze the use of religious themes and symbols in contemporary visual art. These approaches have widened the scope of works that might be identified as contemporary visual art: popular, mass-produced, and folk art are all within the purview of analyses of contemporary visual art. These studies examine how religious themes and symbols function in religious communities and in the wider communities of which they are a part. Even when studying the function of visual and material culture within a particular religious tradition, these studies tend to identify common or essential themes in different religions. The contemporary preference for being “spiritual but not religious” emerges in the identification of common religious themes and symbols. Contemporary theological approaches to the study and appreciation of contemporary visual art are “insider” methods that religious adherents use to assess critically the value of the use of religious themes and symbols in modern culture. These insider methods identify orthodox uses of religious themes and symbols in contemporary visual art, not only to identify negatively that which is unorthodox or heterodox, but also to identify works of art that celebrate religious beliefs, make traditional beliefs relevant, and help to shape new ways of engaging the wider community. Theological methods often incorporate the work of material and visual studies scholars. Like these scholars, theologians seek to affirm the value of unique religious beliefs in an increasingly pluralistic world.