Thursday, July 17, 2008

Reflecting on Creating Art in a Group Setting

I have been reflecting on why retreats for mediating, art making, etc., are so effective and rich. The simple answer is space. There is space for whatever we are focused on; art making, mediating, writing, etc. Everything else falls away. There is the intention, the desire to paint, and time and space to do it. It is having the luxurious benefit of intention, time, and space. Of course it helps to have like minded people around you doing the same activity. The group benefits from each others creative energy and spirit. Shaun McNiff calls this ‘participation mystique’. He says that painting in a group helps us relax our self-consciousness and become part of a larger group expression. This shows up the same colours being used by artists who work around your table, or maybe different expressions of the same images. A wonderful sparking of creative spirit can be felt in art groups working together.
Emily Carr wrote the following about looking at nature:
“ I begin to see that everything is perfectly balanced so that what one borrows one must pay back, everything has its own place but is interdependent on the rest, that a picture, like life, must also have perfect balance. Every part of it also is dependent on the whole and the whole is dependent on every part. It is a swinging rhythm of thought.”
I think this is what happens when groups create art together, there is a swinging rhythm that flows in the studio space.

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