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Art and ConsciousnessThe Pedagogy of Art and Transformation

Author(s): Michael Grady


Source: Visual Arts Research, Vol. 32, No. 1(62) (2006), pp. 83-91
Published by: University of Illinois Press
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/20715405 .
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Art and Consciousness?The
Pedagogy
of Art
and Transformation
Michael
Grady
John F.
Kennedy University
Abstract
The world has
changed profoundly
in the
past
50
years,
but our
approaches
to
educating
art
ists have not. This
paper
describes the evolu
tion and
unique
educational
approaches
of the
Department
of Arts and Consciousness at John
F.
Kennedy University
in California
-
a studio art
program
that uses innovative holistic
techniques
to lead students into the
integration
of
body,
mind,
spirit
and
culture,
through
art. The
program
stresses cross-cultural awareness,
community
service and
spiritual
awareness. The historical
and cultural foundations for the
re-emergence
of
art as a
non-religious, spiritual,
and
self-integra
tive
practice
are examined. These foundations
include ideas associated with the
Bauhaus,
Asian art and the Automatist branch of the Sur
realist movement. The
department's
educational
philosophies
and curriculum are discussed with
in the context of overlooked
spiritual legacies
of
modernism,
cultural
pluralism,
and the
changing
roles of art as
professional practice.
Introduction
As the world
changes,
so must the
ways
in
which artists are trained. In the
past
centu
ry,
we have
experienced changes
in tech
nology,
culture,
morality,
and environment
that are
unparalleled
in human
history.
The
Department
of Arts and Consciousness
at John F.
Kennedy University,
in Berke
ley,
California,
has for the
past
30
years
been
developing
a new
way
to address the
problem
of arts education for a new cul
tural
reality.
Its
programs
seek to reestab
lish
spirituality
as an essential
property
of
art,
without
making
links to formal
religious
doctrine. These
programs
are also
predi
cated on the assertion that the basic func
tion of art is to create transformation in the
artist,
the
viewer,
the
community,
and the
culture. Yet the
contemporary
art world?
which
paradoxically
believes it is all-inclu
sive
(Rosenberg, 1972)?has marginalized
or discarded the
spiritual
and transforma
tive dimensions of art which once
gave
it a
sense of cultural
authority
and
meaning.
After
nearly
three
decades,
the
depart
ment is still a work in
progress.
This
paper
will examine the evolution of the
program
and consider its
significance
in the devel
opment
of new and holistic
approaches
to
art education. The
unique
academic and
artistic curricula and holistic
approaches
to art as a fusion of
body,
mind, spirit,
and culture will be discussed.
Further,
it
will also consider the
program's
links to
the evolution of
modernism,
the realities
of
postmodernist thinking
and various di
verse cultural influences that are
reshap
ing
the
emergent global
culture.
The world of
contemporary
art and
the educational structures that
support
it
have reflected an
increasing global
crisis
in
identity
and
meaning brought
about
by
the failure of old cultural structures and as
sumptions.
The
onslaught
of new multicul
tural realities and the
revolutionary
effects
of
feminism, Marxism,
and the
present
era
of
global capitalism
have contributed to
these
epochal changes.
The modern era
of art has been characterized
by
the cult
of the avant
garde,
which Donald
Kuspit
(1996)
asserts was destined from its
incep
tion to be the instrument in its own demise.
The
postmodernist approaches
to art that
predominate
the
contemporary
art world
do not
attempt
to address the crisis in cul
tural
identity
or
spiritual meaning.
Instead,
postmodernism
denies the
very concept
VISUAL ARTS RESEARCH ? 2006
by
the Board of Trustees of the
University
of Illinois 83
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of
"meaning"
or indeed the existence of
an individual or collective
identity (Kuspit,
2004).
We are left
only
with materialism
and the hollow
capitalist impulse
toward
the
acquisition
of wealth and
power
as
substitutes for
deeper
levels of
knowledge
and awareness. The denial of the
spiritual
in
contemporary
art,
though
a dominant
aspect
of the art
scene,
is
by
no means a
fait
accompli.
The ancient
impulse
toward
art as
spiritual inquiry
and
mystical prac
tice was
originally
an
important aspect
of
modernism and is
recognized
even
today,
by many,
as an essential dimension of
truly
effective art.
Suzi Gabiik
(1992)
states,
"We live in
a world that has
drastically
narrowed our
sensitivity
to moral and
spiritual
issues;
the
problem
is how to deal with a belief struc
ture that has blocked both
psychological
and
spiritual development" (p. 3).
Artists
are in a different business
today
than were
our artistic ancestors of
just
a
generation
ago.
Our teachers and their teachers be
fore
them,
in art schools and universities
around the
world,
have embraced diver
gent,
sometimes
antithetical,
notions of
what and who makes
good
art;
and what
makes art
good.
The cultural boundaries
and ideals that once defined art are now
subject
to endless redefinition
by
art and
artists, philosophers, politicians,
and cul
tural
institutions,
leading
to a morass of
nondefinition
(Rosenberg, 1972).
Modern
ism,
de-defined
by postmodernism,
has
left us with an unbounded confusion of di
versity, conceptualism,
and
neocapitalism.
Much has been written about the end of art
and the dimensions of a
post-avant garde
culture
shaped
and
reshaped by global
ization,
technology,
and moribund cultural
structures that once
gave
art
meaning,
like
religious
faith and the search for
beauty
and
happiness (Kuspit, 1996).
Perhaps
the most
significant
but over
looked
aspect
of 20th
century
art is the
meeting
of artistic
principles
of Asia: the
Middle
East,
India and East Asia
(Sul
livan,
1973). Certainly
the
emergence
of
Orientalism in 19th
century Europe
and
the influence of
Japanese Ukiyo-e
wood
block
prints
on the
Impressionisms
cannot
be
ignored. Asian-inspired principles
of the
Theosophists
and later of Zen had a simi
larly profound, though
often
overlooked,
influence on the
emergence
of modernism.
It is remarkable that students in art
colleg
es
throughout
the world are still
taught
a
decidedly
Eurocentric view of
art,
despite
the
inspiration
such modernist
principles
derived
through
contact with
non-Europe
an cultures. Similarities exist between the
ideas of the
early European
modernists,
like
Kandinsky,
and the classical traditions
of Chinese
paintings. Lipsey (1988)
makes
an
important
link between the Chinese
concept
of
"spirit
resonance"
(chi y?r?)
and
Kandisky's
notion on "inner sound"
(p.43).
Both are central to the awareness of
spiri
tual essence in
art-making,
but are
largely
overlooked in
contemporary
art and edu
cation.
Even when no direct contact was evi
dent,
the
spiritual aspirations
of the classi
cal East and the modern West were united
in the art of the 20th
century.
The 19th cen
tury
notion of the natural
sublime,
evident
in the work of
Friedrich, Turner,
and other
Romantic
painters
of the
period
is essen
tially
the same as the connection to Tao?
the flow of nature which is at the heart
of classical Chinese
landscape painting.
The Chinese
propensity
for
spontaneity
and
eccentricity
which were emblematic
of the
Sung
and
Tang dynasties (7th?13th
century CE)
were claimed as essential
aspects
of the
European
and American
Abstract
Expressionist
movement, appar
ently
with little
knowledge
of the similari
ties to the classical Chinese. This seems
an
important aspect
of the current search
for new models of cultural fusion in art:
discovery
of cultural essence in the search
for transcendent
meaning.
Cultural com
petency
for
contemporary
artists must
go
farther than the mere awareness of
other cultures. It seems essential that as
piring
artists have a direct
experience
of
other cultures
through physical participa
tion in art and ritual if their education is to
adequately integrate convergent
cultural
traditions.
84 Michael
Grady
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The Bauhaus
Many
of the
concepts
and
techniques
used
by
art schools
today
were first
developed
and articulated
by
the Bauhaus. The Bau
haus was
inspired by
the Marxist ideals
of
proletarian
control of
technology
and
industry
as well as
by
the
mystical
teach
ings
of Rudolf Steiner and Henri
Bergson,
who had
developed
rationalist
approaches
to the
spiritual
movements associated with
avant
garde
salons of the
early
20th cen
tury.
The Bauhaus's
progressive
social and
technological
vision was embodied
by
its
founder Walter
Gropius
and his
colleague
Ludwig
Mies van der Rohe. Its
mystical
influences were established
by
Johannes
Itten,
Paul
Klee, and, Wassily Kandinsky
who
joined
the school soon after
Gropius
became its director
(Colin, 1999).
The
dialogue
and
struggle
between the two
polarities
of social
change
and
spiritual
at
tainment
(the
social vs. the
personal)
had
a
great
deal to do with the
power
and ef
fectiveness of the Bauhaus and its
impact
on modern art education.
The
early
modernist obsession with
self-examination and
community
service
was well reflected in the
Bauhaus,
which
based its Vbr/curs-^foundation?classes
on Itten's color
theories,
which included
references to numerous
mystical prac
tices
including theosophy, anthroposo
phy,
Mazdazanism,
and Buddhism
(Colin,
1999). Equally revolutionary approaches
to
design
and
technological
education
were also
part
of the Bauhaus's
legacy.
We
have inherited the Bauhaus-based formal
ism and zeal for
technology
that is evident
in almost
every aspect
of modern
design
and
architecture,
but have lost the other
side of the Bauhaus's cultural
genius,
the
spiritual
side that was
purged
from the
later
stages
of this brilliant but
relatively
short-lived institution. When Director Gro
pius proclaimed
the new "alliance between
art and
technology"
in
1923,
he
essentially
changed
the foundations of the school and
moved towards a
stronger
link to technol
ogy
and
industry. Although Gropius
himself
had held a vision of balance between the
| |
^
|| ^ ^^ %;:: ':?^?^^^9H^^H?^|^^|
Image
1. Portrait of Johannes
Itten,
1920. Pho
tograph by
Paula
Stockmar,
BHA.
spiritual
and the
technological,
his
proc
lamation,
that all art created at the Bau
haus was henceforth to be informed
only
by practical function,
severed connections
with medieval
mystical
links between
art,
craft
guilds,
and esoteric
spiritual practice.
The resultant dramatic
resignation
of Jo
hannes
Itten,
who had been
frequently
an
tagonistic
to
Gropius's
vision of the
school,
and was the
faculty
member most
closely
linked to
mysticism
and esoteric
spiritual
practices, changed
the nature of the Bau
haus
experiment
in art education. This re
sulted in a
legacy
of rationalist/materialist
philosophies
of
design
and architecture
that remains worldwide to this
day (Colin,
1999).
Itten's successor as master of the class
es of color and
design
was Josef
Albers,
who
taught many
of Itten's theories of color
but eliminated all references to his
spiritual
content and condemned Itten's
"arrogant
individualism"
(Schnitz, 1999, p. 315).
The
initial counterbalance to the technical and
industrial bias of the Bauhaus was lost in
Art and Conciousness 85
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the national fervor for industrial
recovery
and the avant
garde
obsession with tech
nology.
In its
early parallel
motives of art as
both
spiritual self-inquiry
and material ser
vice to the
masses,
the Bauhaus drew a
connection between
spiritual expression
and the creation of radical
approaches
to
design
and architecture. Most art col
leges
offer foundation curricula based on
Bauhaus
principles
in the
attempt
to find
common
ground
between art and indus
try.
The formalist/materialist
legacy
of the
Bauhaus that has informed
many genera
tions of
industrially
oriented
artists,
archi
tects,
and
designers
seems insufficient for
the economic and
political
realities of the
21st
century.
The reexaminaron of
mysticism
and
personal nonreligious approaches
to
spiri
tuality,
which were once seen as
integral
aspects
of
revolutionary
social
change,
may
contain the foundations for a new
approach
to art and art education. Given
Itten's obsession with the occult and Klee
and
Kandisky's "essentially
transcendent
notion of life"
(Gabiik,
1984, p. 21),
it was
inevitable that the Bauhaus would reflect
the
spiritual aspect
of art. The connection
between art and
industry
that
prevailed
in
the Bauhaus was also
entirely appropriate
for a culture
rushing
to the
peak
of its indus
trial
might. Today, however,
European
and
American artists live in a
different, postin
dustrial world. We have
replaced
reliance
on
industry
with a service-based
economy
and
mentality.
Where once the Bauhaus
found creative
partnerships
in the indus
trial/technological
world,
a
contemporary
alliance with the fields of
health,
psychol
ogy,
and environmentalism seem
equally
inevitable for the art world
today.
The
Origins
of Arts and
Consciousness
The
Department
of Arts and Conscious
ness
(A&C),
a small art
department
in a
relatively
obscure California
university,
has
been
attempting
to create a new
way
of
educating
artists?to
prepare
them for a
world in which cultural
identity
and mean
ing
are in constant
question.
The idea that
art is an
innately healing activity
related
to
spiritual
attainment and
insight
is an
ancient source from which the
program
was
inspired.
Its foundations were rooted
in a
variety
of
spiritual philosophies
and
practices.
Academically
the
department's
influences and
approaches
were
inspired
by pioneers
of the
Bauhaus,
and later of
the
Psychic
Automatist branch of Surreal
ism?in
particular
the late
English
artist
Gordon Onslow Ford. Onslow Ford lived
in the
Bay
Area for the last half of his life
and worked
closely
with several A&C fac
ulty
members. He
provided
the
department
with a
living
link to the
Psychic
Automatist
artists of late 1930s in
Paris,
where he was
among
the Surrealists who first
developed
the
approach (Henderson, 1986). Though
never a member of the
faculty,
Onslow
Ford functioned as a mentor for several
key faculty
members in the
department
over the
past
20
years.
His admonition
to
approach
art as a
journey
into the
"inner worlds" became a familiar
phrase
in the
department.
He insisted that it was
essential to
approach
art and life as an
automatist?to
accept
with
delight
what
ever comes. This remains a
key
foundation
of the
department's approach
to art and
artists.
Arts and
Consciousness was founded
in 1977
by
Jack Weiler and the late Charles
Miedzinski. Its
primary precept
was that
Image
2. Star Born
II,
1992. Gordon Onslow
Ford, Acrylic
on canvas.
(Lucid
Arts Founda
tion)
86 Michael
Grady
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Image
3. Gordon Onslow Ford in his
studio,
Bishop
Pines California,
1994.
(Photo:
Fariba
Bogzavan,
Lucid Arts
Foundation)
art,
at its core,
is a form of
spiritual healing
and that artists
might
serve as healers in
the same manner as
indigenous
shamanic
healers once served tribal communities.
These
early
notions of art as
healing?not
quite
as
therapy
but as a
proactive
means
for
personal,
community,
and environmen
tal transformation?remain
an
important
part
of the
department
and its educational
approaches.
While the
original
curriculum stressed
the use of creative
self-expression
as a
tool for self-examination and emotional
healing,
it was
relatively
uninterested in
the formal and cultural dimensions of art.
The absence of intensive studio
emphasis
was
perceived by
the
pioneers
of the
pro
gram
to be
desirable,
because untrained
students
were
thought
to be more
open
to
new
concepts
and to authentic
personal
insights
and
expressions.
Older students
were seen as most
appropriate
to convert
life
experiences
into
meaningful
and au
thentic statements of
spiritual
truth.
Originally
the
department's
curriculum
was based
upon
students
finding
their
own
ways
in the world
by moving
from the
insights
derived from creative
self-expres
sion into
positive therapeutic
interactions
with the
larger community.
No
attempt
was
made to
suggest
that the art
being
created
by
students was
intrinsically
valuable or
capable
of
sustaining
a transformative ex
perience
in others
except
as an illustration
of the artist's own
experience.
This
early
art-therapeutic phase
of the
program
was
founded on a
noble,
but
limited, perception
that art's
primary
value lies in its utilitarian
function;
the
healing
of emotional illness
and the
development
of individual
spiritual
awareness.
In
1996,
the Arts and Consciousness
program
was revised to
strengthen
techni
cal and formal
aspects
of the curriculum.
New
faculty
were hired who were less in
clined towards the
therapeutic
or self-con
sciously
described "sacred"
aspects
of
art,
and more interested in a holistic vision of
art as
simultaneously spiritual,
social,
and
material. The
program
was
split
into two
new
programs:
a Master of Fine Arts in
Studio Arts which was
quite
selective,
ad
mitting only
students with
strong
art back
grounds;
and an Master of Arts in Trans
formative Arts which stressed the links
between individual artistic
process
and
creative work with external communities.
Curriculum
The
department's
links to the Bauhaus
and other modernist ancestors are
clearly
visible in the curriculum
today.
Johannes
Itten's color
theory
is
taught
in a manner
that would have been consistent with his
work in the
early years
of the Bauhaus.
Although
the
rigid
structure and techno
logical
focus of the Bauhaus are not
pres
ent in Arts and
Consciousness,
the overall
intent remains the same: to combine inner
vision with craft and service to the com
munity.
The
early
20th
century
focus of the
Bauhaus on
industry
has been
replaced
with an
equally strong
commitment to
per
sonal and
community healing
and transfor
mation. For
A&C,
the
"practical"
use of art
lies in its
potential
for work in the commu
nity
rather than in the
factory.
The
passion
Art and Conciousness 87
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ate
dialogues
between Bauhaus
faculty
regarding
the
primacy
of social
praxis
over
spirituality
are familiar themes in Arts and
Consciousness
faculty meetings.
The curriculum of Arts and Conscious
ness examines artistic traditions from a
variety
of cultures and historical
periods
as well as
contemporary approaches
to
psychology, philosophy,
and cultural theo
ry.
The overall focus of the
program
is on
spiritual self-inquiry
and cultural
compe
tency
as the foundations for
discovering
meaning
in one's work and
offering
value
and relevance to the
community.
These
educational
goals
are achieved
through
a
combination of
pedagogical strategies
that
involve
experiential,
academic,
and techni
cal
learning.
Individual courses are seen
as
part
of a
larger experience
in which the
student's
experience
of
creativity
is devel
oped through
a
variety
of media.
Painting,
sculpture, photography,
video, installation,
movement,
and
poetics
are all
represented
as artistic
disciplines
within the
program,
no
single
media
being emphasized.
Stu
dents are
encouraged
to work in a
variety
of media and to
explore freely?especially
in the first
year
of the
program.
Periodic
formal reviews
by faculty
committees ex
amine both student artwork and individual
insights
into
creativity,
culture,
and com
munity.
Upon entering
the
department,
stu
dents are
required
to enroll in courses
that introduce them to holistic
approaches
to art as
self-inquiry
rather than as craft.
Paradigms
of
Consciousness,
Creativ
ity
and
Consciousness,
and Art and the
Symbolic
Process form a
year-long
se
quence
in which students move
through
the
process
of intense self-examination
through
a
carefully
orchestrated series of
exercises that involve studio
activity (col
lage, drawing,
and
painting)
as well as
meditative
practice. Applied Alchemy
of
fers a further extension of the
process
be
gun
in the introduction
classes,
taking
the
idea of creative
process
into the realm of
alchemy
seen from an
essentially Jungian
perspective.
Students are
required
to
complete
art
history
courses as
undergraduate prereq
uisites. In
addition,
they
must
complete
a
Survey
of World
Religions
and
any
of a
variety
of
spiritual practice
courses that
involve actual
practice
of a
particular
medi
tative
technique
and academic examina
tion of the cultural and
philosophical
tra
dition with which it is associated?Zen or
Vipasana
for
example. Many
courses are
designed
to
provide
a sense of connection
to diverse cultural and
philosophical
tradi
tions. Courses in
philosophy
and criticism
help
them contextualize these
experiences
with their own work as
contemporary
art
ists. Media of Sacred
Arts,
a
category
of
studio
?lectives,
introduces
techniques
that
explore topics
such as Asian ink
paint
ing, qigong,
Butoh, m?ndalas,
African
drumming,
and movement or mask-mak
ing
associated with shamanic ritual. These
courses
strengthen
students'
practical
experience
of the sacred as a cultural ac
tivity
as well as a tool for
personal spiri
tual
growth.
The kinesthetic dimensions of
these
classes,
combined with the technical
and academic
approaches
offered else
where in the
curriculum,
helps
students
achieve a creative
synergy
in their work.
This holistic
approach deepens
students'
awareness of themselves as
participants
in a cultural dialectic from which
physical
and emotional
health,
meaning,
and a re
newed sense of
personal identity might
be
derived.
Few courses use
only
a
single peda
gogical approach
such as studio
practice
or academic
study using
a conventional
lecture format. A more
typical approach
might
be the one used in
Philosophy
of
Art,
a course
required
for all MFA students.
This course focuses on extensive read
ings
of a
culturally
diverse
range
of Euro
pean,
Asian and African
authors,
lectures
by
the
instructor,
and studio
assignments
based on the lectures and
readings.
Lec
ture
topics
include
aesthetics,
mysticism,
postmodernism, reception theory,
and cul
tural
theory.
The course includes
lectures,
discussions,
and
critiques
and concludes
with written and verbal
presentations by
the students
identifying
the
origins
of their
88 Michael
Grady
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identities as artists and as members of
contemporary
culture.
Transformative Arts
The term transformative is used to describe
this
program's emphasis
on the idea that
art is
essentially
about
changing things.
Its
purpose
is to
support
the artist/student in
gaining
increased self-awareness of the
individual creative
process.
It is axiomatic
within the
program
that
by going deeply
into
ourselves,
we
paradoxically
discover
the world around us. The MA
program
in
Transformative Arts is
clearly
identified as
a studio arts
program
in which art?not
psychotherapy?is
the focus. It
emphasiz
es the essential transformative role of art
in the
community.
It differs from the MFA in
the relaxed levels of formal
critique
and de
emphasis
of
philosophy
and
criticism,
but
not in its
assumption
that art is a
process
of
self-integration,
cultural
expression,
and
exploration
of truth and
identity.
In Trans
formative Arts the
department's original
ideal of art as
healing
is
paired
with a new
focus on
community
interaction and formal
training.
The Transformative Arts
program
re
quires supervised externships
in commu
nity organizations working
with members
of the outside
community
in a wide
variety
of creative roles. Transformative Arts stu
dents link their individual discoveries and
insights
as artists to
ways
these could be
offered to
potential
clients.
Communities,
organizations, businesses,
or individuals
looking
for
ways
to rediscover lost sources
of creative
expression
and
self-integration
became the
objects
of student service and
artistic interest.
Master of Fine Arts
The MFA
program
was
designed
to
help
artists understand that creative self-ex
pression
is itself an act of
spiritual
aware
ness. The notion that the
original
ideals
of the modernist
pioneers might
still find
relevance in the
contemporary
art world
has been a
strong emphasis
in the
pro
gram.
Rather than
preparing
for a career
in a
ready-made
cultural
setting,
Arts and
Consciousness students are invited to cre
ate for themselves
unique
niches
linking
their individual
experience
as artists with
an outside
constituency.
Their work as art
ists often
challenges
conventional notions
of artistic
professional practice.
Students
discover new venues for the exhibition of
their artwork and new contexts
through
which to achieve increased levels of so
cial relevance. Of
course,
some students
remain focused on established models of
the
exhibiting
artist and have found some
success in the
gallery
scene and in
higher
education.
Critique plays
an essential role in the
Arts and Consciousness MFA
program.
Many
students, however,
arrive in the
pro
gram
traumatized
by critiques
from other
schools,
experienced
as
intentionally
hos
tile, adversarial,
and
judgmental.
While
sometimes seen as hallmarks of artistic
rigor
and
preparation
for the harsh facts of
the "real"
world,
such attributes have been
largely
removed from the
critique process
at JFK. Prevalent
among
Arts and Con
sciousness
faculty
is a belief that the real
world is what we
co-create,
and that brutal
preparation only helps predetermine
a bru
tal
reality.
Arts and Consciousness
faculty
work to
counter
anticipation
of ridicule or dismissal
by
authoritarian art
professors?or
class
mates who have learned similar
critique
habits. Such
anticipation
is a
nearly ubiq
uitous obstacle to students'
willingness
to
take risks and
experiment
with their
work,
both of which are essential to the
program.
Emphasis
is instead
placed
on
supportive
inquiry
rather than confrontation. In a
posi
tive critical environment it becomes
pos
sible to examine differences in
perception
and to
analyze
the formal
dynamics
of an
artwork without
dismissing, marginalizing,
or otherwise
disabling
the artist. There are
often clear
challenges
and intense dia
logues?even arguments?about
the
work,
but the intent in A&C
critiques
is
always
to model
open
and effective communica
tion. A
key assumption
in
critique
is that
Art and Conciousness 89
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the artist has the
responsibility
for
setting
an intention in the artwork. The
group
or
individual critic's role is not to
pronounce
judgments
on the
work,
but to
investigate
the artist's intentions in
making
it and to
communicate authentic viewer
responses
to the artwork. Issues of
taste, fashion,
and
personal preference
are
deempha
sized,
and the
ability
to
distinguish
critical
inquiry
from such
subjective
value
judg
ments is
encouraged.
The
critique group
becomes
dynamic by deeply examining
its
own
assumptions
about the aesthetic and
conceptual requirements
of the artwork. Is
sues of careerism and
externally imposed
arbiters of success
(real
or
imagined)
are
deemphasized.
There is an
advantage
to
the
department's tendency
to attract stu
dents who are somewhat older than those
in most
colleges
and therefore more aware
of the realities of
earning
a
living.
Conclusion
The realities of art and the education of
artists in
contemporary society
are
unique
in our
history.
Our cultural
paradigms
have
shifted and are
continuing
to evolve into a
new kind of art world. In the midst of an
end-of-art-world which
Kuspit proclaims
has lost its moral foundations and has
been made for the 'street crowd'
(Kuspit,
2004, p. 142),
artists from JFK are
being
encouraged
to become a
part
of a new
post-postmodern world,
one which Gabiik
(1992)
describes as follows:
I believe that what we will see in the next
few
years
is a new
paradigm
based on
the notion of
participation
in which art
will
begin
to redefine itself in terms of
social relatedness and social
healing,
so
that artists will
gravitate
toward different
activities,
attitudes and roles than those
that
operated
under the aesthetics of
modernism,
(p. 27)
We can
recognize
the
emergence
of
new cultural
paradigms by changes
in
those we most admire?our heroes. Once
the modern art world claimed Edouard
Manet,
Pablo
Picasso,
Marcel
Duchamp,
Jackson
Pollack,
and
perhaps Andy
War
hol as its
heroes,
but that world seems to
have
changed. Today, perhaps
Ana Medie
ta,
Josef
Beuys, Andy Goldsworthy, Zheng
Dai
Jian,
Ann
Hamilton,
Gu
Wenda,
or Bill
Viola
represent
the shift from the
egotistic
vision of the
artist-genius
to the
transper
sonal vision of the artist as
harmonizer,
healer, trickster,
and teacher. If art is re
turning
to a sense of the
spiritual,
it will not
be the old
religious
vision of monastic self
sacrifice or humorless
piety.
It will
likely
be
a new and unencumbered identification
with the environment and
community
that
herald a new culture and a new basis for
identity.
That is the vision of the future for
which Arts and Consciousness
prepares
its students.
As artists and educators we learn
to trust our intuition and sense of direct
knowledge.
We know that old methods are
increasingly incapable
of
adequately
re
flecting
the new cultural realities and artis
tic
imperatives
of the next
century.
The De
partment
of Arts and Consciousness has
developed
a
beginning point,
a
way
to see
art as
healing
without
being therapy.
There
are new
ways
to value art without
relying
on art
galleries
or
museums,
new
ways
to
understand art as direct
mystical experi
ence and
teaching
without connection to
formal
religions
or doctrines. As
artists,
we
learn first hand that we are the universe
unfolding.
About the Author
Michael
Grady
has been the chair of the
Department
of Arts and Consciousness at
John F.
Kennedy University
for 12
years.
His accounts of the
history
and
develop
ment of the
Department
of Arts and Con
sciousness are based
upon personal
ac
counts related
by department faculty
and
Grady's
direct
personal experience.
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Art and Conciousness 91
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