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Friday, April 29, 2011

Book Reviews: Spirit and Art by Van James

Spirit and Art: Pictures of the Transformation of Consciousness

by Van James Anthroposophic Press/SteinerBooks

300 pages and over 300 illustrations in b/w and color $30.- softcover. ISBN 0-88010-497-X, 2001, 2008

Searching for Forms that Speak: Reflections on Graphic Design by Van James

As a graphic artist I am challenged to develop designs that speak in the visual language of form, and these forms must communicate specific ideas, activities, and organizational principles through their brand.  Much like an architect I am often bound by the interests of a client to certain parameters that require design compromises.  At other times it is possible to have complete artistic freedom in evolving a theme and to be able to explore new directions.  Both possibilities can be equally challenging and rewarding...

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Creating Art From Spiritual Experiences

I am looking forward to exploring this blog further and am very excited about the collaboration format, also learning about what other people are actually experiencing through their studies and explorations in art.

Recently I have been studying Rudolf Steiner's book "How to Know Higher Worlds" where Steiner states that spiritual realties can be perceived in the same way for everyone, just as we all see a chair. Has anyone depicted some of these perceptions through art?  Has anyone clearly 'seen' these things to be able to depict them? Or is it that if it's spiritual perception it does not translate back into the physical medium as it is a different way of 'seeing'?  And if someone has done this, do others agree with that perception? Many questions!

But I am sure you get my gist, I see a lot of 'perceptions' and interpretations out there, including mine, but is this all just groping in the dark compared to Steiner's suggestion that there is an actual 'concrete' spiritual reality that is the same for us all?

Hopefully this blog will show what picture this collaboration paints about such a reality, that indeed we are all probing the same environment and not just feeding our individual fantasies.

~ Shaun Plowman

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Sweater of Rain: Gesture Stories by Laura Summer

The gesture of a story

When we think of a story we think of a plot, characters, setting and meaning but we can also look at the gesture of a story. What, in a gesture, is a story trying to say? Do we look inward? Do we turn our thinking around? Do we struggle through darkness to light?

In creating these stories I tried to see what the gesture of a season is. How is Advent different from Easter? What happens at Ascension? At Michaelmas? In creating paintings and block prints to accompany these stories I tried to bring the gesture of the season as it is revealed in the story into visual expression. You will not find illustrations here but rather visual experiences that may make you question, what gesture lives here?

The story here is for Ascension, it is called “Swinging Bridge”. It is one of four gesture stories from the book “Sweater of Rain”, available from Free Columbia.

~Laura Summer

Links to the story: Part 1  Part 2

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Summer Conference in Columbia County, NY: August, 5-7

-Image Arts from the Perspective of Spiritual Reality-
the conference and its context

In August of 2010, in Hudson, NY, a conference took place called –The Search for Humanity in Contemporary Art-.  This conference, which sprouted out of the soil of the art section of the school for spiritual science, consisted in a struggle to bring post modern art and art theory into a new light by seeing it in relationship to spiritual science, and likewise to see anthroposophy in its relationship to post modernity.  This was attempted in many ways.  Of course, only the smallest beginning could be made.  A group of around 50 people, mostly artists, gathered together to try this.  You can get an impression of the activities, exhibits, research and events of last summer by going to

During August 5, 6 and 7 of 2011 another gathering will take place in Columbia County, NY.  It has grown out of last summer’s gathering.  Our question has become more specific, -Image Arts from the Perspective of Spiritual Reality-.  The relationships between painting, photography and Cinema, and the greater effect technological reproduction (particularly of artwork) has had on the world and culture, have been central themes for artists over the last decades.  Striving to achieve clarity in these relationships out of a spiritual understanding of reality, this task is left to those working with spiritual science.  A group of artists is also preparing an exhibit to take place parallel to the conference.  The theme of the exhibit is -The Metamorphosis of Fear–.  As you will see below, this work can be seen as a preparatory step.
As we continue to look forward, a larger gathering in the near future is coming into sight which will take all this work and tie it together.  Rudolf Steiner indicated, in conversations with an artist named Jan Stuten, that a new kind of marionette theater needed to be developed to act against the harmful effects cinema had on the human being.  A century has now passed since they worked together on initial plans and sketches for this, but the project never reached maturity.  This was to be a new art, for the small stage, of moving light. Rudolf Steiner saw that in cinema the highest form that could be achieved would be animation. His idea for a renewal of puppetry would be related to what we know as animation, only guided and performed by human beings.  Rudolf Steiner suggested that the first piece he and Stuten could create for this stage, might be called -The Metamorphosis of Fear-.  This summer we are creating an initial exhibit on the theme of the metamorphosis of fear and exploring the arts of painting, photography and cinema in a conference.  Hopefully during the summer of 2012 or 2013 we can bring all this work together to see if we can take another step.
If you would like to join us this summer, or would like to learn more you can contact either:

Nathaniel Williams:   518 672 4090
Laura Summer:    518 672 7302

Monday, April 11, 2011

Trial Run Post: Michael Warms Things Up

It has been a cold winter in Amherst but Michael keeps 
his wood pile stacked and his studio warm.