Sacred Artist Interview: Jan Richardson
Creating art is itself a form of spiritual practice. Spiritual practice, whether or not it involves physical creating, invites us to work on everything that comes up in our journey. Being an artist presents me with all kinds of opportunities to do that work, to keep chipping away at the challenges that come in the creative process, including resistance, envy, and weariness.
Spiritual practices remind us of the value and necessity of giving ourselves to the daily habits that deepen our souls. Bursts of inspiration and leaps in our artistic work usually rest on the bedrock of routines we have developed. Those routines may sometimes be mind-numbingly boring, but they're what help us show up and make ourselves available to the creative spirit. The mundane and the miraculous are intimately intertwined.
What inspires your spiritual journey? What inspires your artistic journey?
I am a book fiend. Books offer endless fascination and inspiration on my spiritual journey as well as my artistic journey. In the last few years, I've found huge inspiration in studying medieval illuminated manuscripts, which often incorporated images and words as a way of helping people pray. Sometimes these books overtly make their way into my artwork, such as the series The Hours of Mary Magdalene, which was inspired by a medieval Books of Hours. The influence of these manuscripts isn't always overt; more often, these books subtly shape my work with their insights into the relationship between words and images, and what that relationship can invite us to. From exquisite prayer books to texts of biblical books such as the Psalms, the Gospels, and the Apocalypse, these manuscripts demonstrate how books can offer their readers an interior pilgrimage, a portable cathedral, a sacrament, a threshold to the divine. I want my work to invite folks into the kind of space that these artful, sacred books offered their readers: a thin place, to borrow a term from Celtic spirituality. A place where heaven and earth meet.
This article originally appeared on Christine Valter Paintner's blog, AbbeyoftheArts.com.
Christine Valters Paintner Ph.D., is a Benedictine Oblate and the founder and director of Abbey of the Arts, a non-profit ministry integrating contemplative practice with the expressive arts. She teaches at Seattle University's School of Theology and Ministry and also works as a spiritual director, retreat facilitator, writer, and artist. She is the co-author of Lectio Divina: Contemplative Awakening and Awareness from Paulist Press. Visit her website www.AbbeyoftheArts.com.