© 2016 Kathryn P. Davison

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Artists as muses

July 14, 2017

The visionary artist Alex Grey has said, “When artists give form to revelation, their art can advance, deepen and potentially transform the consciousness of their community.” I think of the artistic process - from the crudest beginnings of us rank beginners, to the most refined touch of the world's visionaries and prodigies - as a way that invisible imaginings and dynamics are made visible. We are creating the world moment by moment, with our thoughts feelings and actions, as well as our songs, poems and canvasses. 

 

Below you can see a detail of an amazing energy portrait by Mr. Grey. The very way in which this artist expresses himself conveys an image of self and life so much more dynamic and light-driven than most of us, who scrutinize the surface-only features of being. Visionary artists, as they are called, are considered forerunners and cultural catalysts, conveying life in multidimensional ways. 

 

 

 

A collective known as "Tribe 13," similarly, organize events and exhibits in decidedly back-to-nature gatherings to display visionary artworks to audiences who might appreciate their portrayals of life as interconnected and interpenetrating. One tribe member, Martina Hoffman, rendered this intricate portrayal of a hummingbird, whose pearlescent wings convey both air and energy:

 

 

 

A hundred years ago or so, visionary artists were being bold in other ways. Paul Gaugin, for instance, was considered a visionary artist, as was Van Gogh. Below is Gauguin's "Vision After the Sermon," in which a group of Breton women are circled in the middle or close of prayer, and here the artist also features the vision they're having. This is no portrait in the traditional sense; rather, Gauguin has inserted their other-worldly preoccupations above them, angelic and demonic motives meeting. Such representations were foreign to the romantic and pastoral themes of the day. These two artists, along with Paul Cezanne, were considered the "angry young men" of post-impressionism, a profound rebellion against the staid representational art fostered by the academies of France in particular. The visionary aspect of their art was not only in the way they saw, and portrayed life, but also in the way they allow others to see their works.

 

 

At that time, artists were not known to show their own work. Art exhibitions were strictly regulated by something called "The Academie," - a cadre of highly accomplished professionals who were both teachers and curators of what was considered excellent at that time. The visionary act in that day was to take exhibitions into one's own hands and invite the public directly. This was a subversive act that defied the pipelines of correct culture at that time. In fact, some post-impressionists were not only censored but actually run out of town by a mob. New ideas are a danger to a well-established status quo. Today, visionary artists brook convention by creating experiential art and  by painting their celestial visions, or promoting themselves as professionals with no particular training; or simply, by painting images that revolutionize our ideas of what it means to be alive. As such they become artists who inspire as much as artists who need inspiration. They are the muses of our future.

 

So today i ask you, can you think of a time when an encounter with a song, or a play, or a poem or picture, took you to a new place of understanding? Welcome to your future.

 

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