I will get around to something more cheerful soon, but this is what emerged from my last session of drawing. I had the title as soon as I started the scribbles. The boy is like younger boys that were in illustrated books by Garth Williams I had as a boy, or I should say we had, my sisters and I. There was the boy who caught the leprechaun and there was the story book about Crispin’s Crispian, the Dog Who Belonged to Himself. I experienced an odd occurrence I associate with an illustration in his book Elves and Fairies when I was between 9 and 11 or there about. I was up in the playroom in the Gaskin Street house and opened the book to a picture of one of his leprechauns. It came alive and it terrified me. I shut the book quickly and left the room. When I was older I looked at the book again and tried to see what I saw then but couldn’t. My rational mind had blocked the intuitive child. I try not to block that intuitive child any longer. Both are needed to get at the truth. Thus the title for this drawing on the last day of 2020: Babble.
By the way, I always thought that Mr. Dog, the title of the book mentioned, was a mild form of propaganda. It clearly states that Crispin’s Crispian was a conservative.
This image can be catalogued with my resent “insomnia drawings. I started only with the idea of depicting some form of benevolent female spirit: the divine mother, Sophia, Anthroposophia, a group soul, the holy spirit, a guardian spirit, a redeemed benevolent form of Lucifer, etc. When I had come close to finishing it, I thought about a title. First thoughts were “Queen of Heaven and Earth”, then “Egalitarian Queen of Heaven and Earth”, to dispel any idea of exclusivity due to any apparent racial archetypes, objectification of women, or any other flaw due to my own ineptitude and prejudices, subliminal or otherwise.
It is obviously influenced by integral art that I have looked at in the past (I have done chakra images before), but there is one obscure influence that I should bring up. When I was young, we had a large drawing on brown paper hanging in our house, done by one of my father’s students, if I am not mistaken. It was of a blond female figure with flowing hair and gown, with the words “And Ye Shall Find the Fields Filled with Great Golden Chariots”, in block letters above the figure.
My wife and I together, during a very stressful time, once saw a hovering orange spirit in the corner of one of the rooms in our house. We were the only ones around. It is not as though she or I have hallucinatory visions, but we both sensed or saw in a non-physical way, a spirit bathed in orangish light and acknowledged this to each other. We have been known to finish each other’s sentences, have simultaneously the same thoughts, and know what the other was thinking, but this experience was singularly unique.
An odd thing happened when I went to write the title on the back with my signature. I had settled on the long name “Egalitarian Queen of Heaven and Earth”, and clearly had this in my mind as I was nodding off. When I went to read the title the next day, it read: “Egalitarian School of Prayer”, and I guess that is what it is, a prayer to an all encompassing compassionate spirit.
I have struggled with insomnia since I was a teanager. Lately I have had a resurgence of insomnia. Usually I eventually make up for lost sleep but in the meantime, I struggle. It is not that I never sleep, just that I cannot sleep at night for a normal 7-8 hours and have to make up for it later. Someone once said I keep jazz musician’s hours. When I was self employed, this was OK. Most of my adult life I have had to hold down a job employed by someone else. Luckily these were jobs I enjoyed, working in a living history museum for 19 years, 3 years as a graduate assistant and now, 10 or more years teaching at the college and university level.
My way of coping with insomnia has been, since 15 years of age, to put the time to good use making art. For 19 years, I painted in my attic.The past decade, I have played the piano with headphones on, and I have always written poetry. For the past several months, I have been drawing completing one or two drawings a week. sometimes more. Most of these have been non-objective. I have finally had to embrace my eclecticism even if it is not a good career choice. If you get known for one thing and then you switch to something else, you loose your brand so to speak. Of all the art Picasso made, his ceramic work was panned initially. Eventually this work was seen as groundbreaking in the field of ceramics. I am not claiming to be Picasso but I have learned to embrace my eclecticism weather others do or not
Here are my drawings from the past few months, some influenced no doubt by the current state of the world. I could be called a neo-modernist or neo expressionist with a predilection for Steiner’s ideas on art, and goethean color theory. I am a student of art of all kinds and of nature and of my own experiences.
I do post my own work on this sight and sometimes feel uncomfortable or embarrassed doing so. I am open to posting any artist with a connection to Anthroposophy or any artistic endeavor influenced by Rudolf Steiner, or articles about art in general from a spiritual perspective and possibly some connection to Steiner’s work. So far, I am an editor of one for this site. Thank you for viewing.
I consider myself an artist first and have been immersed in art from early childhood. I have a background in music, theater, poetry, painting, sculpture, and pottery, among other art and craft forms and media. Because of my work at Westville and my teaching, I am known mostly as a potter I apprenticed with my father at 15 working with some of his college students in the late 70’s in what was then called Sugar Creek Pottery, later just Hawks Pottery. My father’s textbook for teaching then was Charles Counts book Pottery Workshop: A Study in the Making of Pottery. Both he and my father were influenced by Marguerite Wildenhain who studied at the Bauhaus. I saw countless potters working growing up, mostly in GA but my first pottery memory is from the Cole pottery in NC.
I worked later with Ron Meyers at UGA, Don Penny at Valdosta State, Jeff Kaller at Columbus State, and Holly Hanessian at FSU. When I began working at Westville in the late 1980’s, early 90’s, I interviewed D. X. Gordy who started the Westville pottery, watched him work and visited with him a few times both at his home and at Westville. I also did extensive historic research starting with Edgefield pottery and tracing the forms and craft as it migrated throughout the south, including some of the other origins that were specific in the development of GA pottery including places like Salem NC, etc. Technical ideas came from disparate sources on wood, salt, and slip glazing including Denis Parks and the whole Leach/Hamada/Cardew tradition.
I began to do face jugs at Westville and writing on some of them, in dialogue with Ned Berry, after my studies of the original face pieces from Edgefield SC. My father and I did face pieces back in the 70’s outside of the southern tradition more connected to a broader history of effigy ceramics. The totems came about somewhat outside of the traditions as well, though most of mine were slip and salt glazed, and wood fired. I had always admired Joe Bova’s work and am also a lifetime student of esoteric spirituality, specifically Christian esotericism as expounded on by the philosopher and early 20th century teacher Rudolf Steiner. My totems were directly inspired by a simple line drawing that Steiner did of the seraphim (also traditionally called the four evangels) as they relate to the human spiritual body, like the orientation of the chakras of eastern esotericism. My other totems are more comical and are closer to traditional face jugs and figurals.
The imagery of the four Seraphim, is a part of Judeo-Christian spirituality. It can be found in the old testament in the book of Isaiah and in the new testament in Revelation. They are later depicted in Medieval illuminated manuscripts of the 4 Gospels. In many manuscripts, images of the four figures were ornately drawn on the first page of each gospel, the eagle being associated with John, the angel or human figure associated with Mathew, the lion with Mark, and the Bull with Luke.
The piece shown at the beginning of this article was the 2nd in a series of approximately 9 around the same theme, in many ways the best, still in my possession along with one other. The rest which maybe 7 were completed, exist in various collections. The other one I still possess is an Americanized version, replacing the forms with a buffalo, a mountain lion, a Native American and a bald eagle. I have one more in this series yet to be completed and only exists in my mind and drawings and includes Anubis at the top as it came to me in a dream. Some of this is difficult to explain.
The serendipity of experiences extends to this specific piece as it had a kind of spiritual power and life of its own, which I do not claim as coming from me but from something higher. It also approached me, after making it, in a dream. During the firing, it withstood one of those kiln disasters you hear of; stacks of work in front of it collapsed. Consequently, it was blasted full force by the flame, ash, and salt which accounts for the patina it has. Many other pieces in that firing were not so fortunate. Things like this happen when dealing so directly with the elementals and other spiritual forces that sometimes make your hair stand on end.
*Note: I have been motivated by resent interest in this series to finish this one that I have contemplated for years. I am in the process of developing the work in the context of a larger installation work. Some thoughts as I worked on this new piece:
American Totem 8/6/2021 I have added Text and finished with the colored (red, yellow. blue, and violet) and black slips. The Coyote has only the black slip and raw clay. “That Good May Become” is from the Foundation Stone Meditation by Steiner as is the Verse for America. I get impatient with my own writing so just improvised and it is not the best text, I may inscribe some more imagery on the back but haven’t decided yet. When I am finished with the work, I will work on a longer explanation of my intention for the piece. hopefully it will come across some without the explanation. Most art is autobiography at some level.
Verse for America
May our feeling penetrate into the center of our heart, and seek, in love, to unite itself with the human beings seeking the same goal, with the spirit beings who — bearing grace, strengthening us from realms of light and illuminating our love — are gazing down upon our earnest, heartfelt striving. ~ Rudolf Steiner, 1923
The totem is a cross and will be on a simple wooden alter with 2 candles. The candle holders will be 2 sculptures like my form sculptures, blue and red, representing Jacob and Boaz, a gate and 2 guardians and tempters as the country passes the threshold of consciousness and into the spirit world. Though the 4 lower figures still represent the seraphim, they are also traditional representations of 4 human archetypes, the melancholic, the choleric, the sanguine, and the saturnine. also used before modern medicine for diagnosis.
I still feel some ambiguity as to the use and meaning of the Coyote. In the dream, it may well have been Anubis. At any rate, I have used the coyote as it is more representative of America and in Native American culture the coyote is an important figure and is often a trickster. This can be seen also as a positive. Like Br’er Rabbit, he is always escaping peril, sometimes in humorous ways.
Below is an email message I received from Lightforms Art Center. I do not really known much about Albert Steffen’s Artistic work though I have read about his life and some of his writing, but this was years ago. In retrospect I can see his influence among anthroposophic artists. I have been aware of Gerard Wagner work for a while and if my memory is clear, I did some of his painting exercises several decades ago. Hilma af Klint, I have posted about in the past. Her work, though it effects me strongly, as does abstract art in general, I have not been initiated into her content and do not feel that I can truly speak about her work with any clarity, other than the feeling content, and by assessing the elements and principles of art and design within the work. These come out of modernist deconstruction but have their usefulness, especially if one does not simply use them to dissect without any feeling or thought for the overall intention of the artist. I will investigate Albert Steffen’s artistic practice more and perhaps post on my findings later. I may also write about Gerard Wagner as well.
Hilma af Klint, Albert Steffen, Gerard Wagner For the second half of our Hilma af Klint Show The Spiritual and the Divinewe are excited to pair Hilma af Klint’s work with two of her contemporaries: Albert Steffen and Gerard Wagner who worked in Dornach, Switzerland at the same time, creating art works inspired by the lectures, indications on the inner path and artistic work of Rudolf Steiner. We selected paintings of both Steffen and Wagner that touch on the same themes as the Hilma af Klint series here in the gallery at Lightforms. Plants, angels, nature beings and trees. The Tree of Knowledge Series by Hilma af Klint is an abstracted version of a tree in which flowers, birds and angels feature prominently. The striking difference of the style, approach and artistic expression of each artist is a strong testament to the ethical individualism that Rudolf Steiner encouraged with his writings, lectures and private consultations. We hope that the comparative juxtaposition of showing these three artists simultaneously is offering a small glimpse into the lively interactions of the members of the anthroposophical society in the early days of its existence.
The Reverse Ritual has its origins in the realm of the highest, deepest & most comprehensive world reality in which the human being, the gods, & the cosmos existentially live, weave, & are present.
For the human being the experience of the highest divine unity is threefold.It is not just a passive thinking, feeling & willing – it is an active, creative, co-thinking, co-feeling, & co-willing with the Godhead.
The body of the Reverse Ritual consists of human thoughts, words & deeds that are ever striving to grasp & further spiritual knowledge, vis-à-vis a cosmic-artistic enlivening, creating paths in the eternal being of the human soul.”
There has been a very exciting development in Hudson, NY, the creation of Lightforms Gallery:
“Lightforms is a center for cultural renewal that brings creative artists and their artwork into the public domain in innovative ways that stimulate dialogue around the inner and outer challenges of our time and attempts to serve the spiritual needs of human beings in their daily lives.
Lightforms intends to realize its mission through public presentations, exhibitions, installations, workshops, lectures, conferences, and performances; an artist-in-residence program; a research center for the further development and understanding of the spiritual foundations of the visual arts; a possible artists grants program; a permanent collection/archive; publications; and a small gift shop.”
I once had the privilege of attending an arts conference in Hudson and this is a fine and powerful addition to what already exists in the area. The town is a beautiful place to visit and still has much of the allure that was once captured by the Hudson River school of artists, a group of artists also inspired by the forms of light.
Frederic Edwin Church, Sunset across the Hudson Valley, 1870
Reading this book I still contemplate the role of art in the threefold social order. These issues, from my perspective, have been tangentially debated in the school of art where I work, not necessarily with the perspective of an anthroposophical world view, but as a mater of contemporary process. What role does money play in the arts? To what extent, as art educators, do we prepare our students for the profession of art? How will they make money after they are graduated and how will they sustain their artistic practice? Should we as artists and educators be apologetic about the often assumed impracticality of an art degree, which is idealistic at its foundation? Since the artist is a laborer, in some degree like any other laborer, how do they participate in the the economic social organism and maintain their idealistic purpose as artists. Some of the things that were learned by the transitions from modernism to post modernism, is that art can be viewed as an extremely lucrative commodity (for better or worse), and that funding for the arts, cannot be ultimately dependent on the government, especially if it wishes to remain free.
After a lull I have returned to write down a few more thoughts on reading Steiner’s lectures on World Economy. At the time of Steiner’s lectures, World Economy was an emerging idea, now it is an accepted, though often troubling, fact. Steiner, despite the esoteric nature of his ideas, dealt in practicalities. He stressed the idea that money must always be perceived in its relationship to nature and labor directly associated with nature, commodities from nature as worked upon by labor. Art and artists, though their materials come from nature and they are also physical laborers to some extent, are categorized with the prototypes of priests, teachers, and clerks as spiritual laborers. The fruits of their labor find value in direct relation to labor associated with nature, cultivating the land for food and hunting are the first examples of this that come to mind and while even these have aspects of spiritual labor, they are more directly associated with nature and associated with natural process, the part of us that is also of nature and by necessity needs food , shelter and clothing.
The world as we know it today, Has exploded from the examples of spirit labor, priests, teachers, clerks, and artists, to a world in which many of us, if not most are now in professions of specialization that might be classed as spirit labour. We all still rely on nature labor and the wages or compensation we earn, is in direct relation and proportion to the offsetting of labor we are not required to do to feed cloth and shelter ourselves.
Steiner does not suggest that we should return to a simpler time. On the contrary he seeks to clarify and balance these relationships, not abolish them, The same goes for the role of land, capitol, investment, loans, profit, and gifting, among other concepts associated with the then newly emerging science of economics. He was establishing the groundwork for a healthy and vital social organism that would sustain and propel the complex evolutionary processes of human development.
If we, as artists see these relationships, we cannot deny our role as spirit laborers, but also cannot separate ourselves entirely from the role of money and the need for ordinary compensation for our work. In order to remain free, as artists and spiritual laborers, however, we have to dig deeper. Here is where a deeper understanding of the threefold social organism is essential. We as world citizens, and as citizens of our, nation, state and communities, are a part of all three spheres, the cultural, the rights, and the economic spheres. Even though we are more invested in the cultural sphere, we cannot ignore our part in the others, as whole and integrated human beings.
I feel and think it is important for those involved in the anthroposophical movement to remember that Rudolf Steiner had a sense of humor as well as a life before anthroposophy, like Goethe in his semi-autobiographical The Sorrows of Young Werther. After all the centerpiece of the Goetheanum includes the Spirit of Cosmic Humor (note the upper left corner of the image above). As I mentioned in the last post, I am reading Steiner’s lectures on World Economy You would not expect to find humor there, but last night I busted out laughing at one of his many anecdotal stories. I was first introduced to the caricatures of Rudolf Steiner by Harold Christian Friedly in 2003 at an Art Section conference in Denver: RUDOLF STEINER PHYSIOGNOMIES Caricatures