THE MISSION OF ART
"Alex Grey might be the most significant artist alive. In a world gone postmodern, bereft of meaning and value, cut loose on a sea of irony and indifference, Alex is taking a stunning stand: there is a God, there is Spirit, there is a transcendental Ground and Goal of human development and unfolding. Higher realities are available to us, is the message of Alex Grey's art and words in this book. He has set himself the extraordinary task of depicting, in art, these higher truths and here encourages all artists to find their own unique means of serving art's abiding mission."
---from the foreword by Ken Wilber
In the fall of 1998, Alex Grey's new book, The Mission of Art was released by Shambhala Publications. The Mission of Art is an inspirational text for artists and anyone who has glimpsed the spiritual power of art. Grey traces the evolution of human consciousness through art history, seeking the threads of art's essential meaning. He reflects on the development of his own work, including provocative performances and the profoundly affecting psychedelic experiences which lead to his unique visionary art. He explores the role of an artist's intention and conscience, and how we of the postmodern age can draw on the creative process as a spiritual path.
A thought-provoking examination of how culture makes the soul visible, The Mission of Art challenges us to aim high with our creativity and bring beauty and fresh vision to our depleted and cynical world. The text is accompanied by over 50 black and white reproductions of the author's own drawings and paintings. The book can be ordered through this area.
Art is the song of the inner life. Arts key role in the human drama is as a "great convincer," not of one myth, religion or ideology over another, but as the raw passion and evolutionary force of the inner world itself. Our inner world, the life of our imagination with its intense feelings, our fears and loves, guides our intentions and actions in the world. Our inner world is the only true source of meaning and purpose we have.
Artists offer the world the pain and beauty of their soul as a gift to open the eyes of and heal the collective. In order to produce their finest works, the artist loses themselves in the flow of creation from their inner world, becomes possessed by an art spirit. Every work of art embodies the vision of it's creator and simultaneously reveals a facet of the collective mind. Art history shows each successive wave of vision flowing through the world's artists.
The history of art is a vast record of tens of thousands of artists and their acts of disciplined passion bringing vision to form. Such a program of passionately committed actions could be called a mission. Yet, the mission of art cannot be limited or strictly defined with words. It is much like Lao-tse said of the Tao, "the way" of enlightened wisdom, "The Tao which can be put into words is not the real Tao, not the ultimate eternal Tao..." The artists mission may not ever be put into words or well understood, but it's invisible magnetizing presence will infuse an artists work completely. What I mean by mission is the inner calling to creatively serve our physically and spiritually depleted world. The artist can be a spiritual emissary working in any media in any part of culture. Mission connotes personal passionate commitment to something. Mission is applied Vision.
An artists mission is determined by their view of life. For each culture, artworks embody and communicate insights that help them to interpret life and take action in the world. Different works of art reflect differing worldviews and levels of consciousness, some works focus on the physical world or the emotions, some art is highly mental, other works seem devotional and heart centered, and some art seems guided by the soul's transcendental nature. The artist attempts to make inner truths visible or audible, sensible in some way, via an external material world manifestation (such as a painting or song). To make a new transpersonal art requires an artists personal experience of the divine.
The artist wields a powerful instrument for personal expression, planetary healing and spiritual awakening. New art forms emerge through visionary insight, technical innovations and when cultures collide. Today, the simultaneous impact of so many technological innovations and divergent world cultures is spawning a hybrid multicultural art. Popular music is filled with sounds from cultures sampled from all around the globe. Musicians from afar have collaborated with musical strangers and created a new World Beat sound. This trend can only increase.
Artists at the dawn of the 21st Century have the unique opportunity to create a universal spiritual art. This art will be born from visions of sacred archetypes common to all mystic paths. The spirit of the times will choose artists sufficiently prepared for this task. The challenge to an artist today is integrating the vast visual legacy of human culture with their own deepest and highest personal insights, distilling that into works of art and making a living at it. Artists need the generous support of patrons and collectors, dealers, curators, critics, and media producers of all kinds, each of whom must examine their own motives for being engaged in the field of art, and see best how they can support the mission.
The unearthing of Paleolithic paintings in the twentieth century reveals that Art is a mighty instinctual force implanted in the hearts of people. Art is a people's collective mind. Art is not a mere amusement, distraction or fashionable investment. Though the artist, their art and the viewer are all impermanent, art can provide evidence of contact with the universal creative force beyond time. Art has a function and a mission to interpret the world, to reveal the condition of the soul, to encourage our higher nature and awaken the spiritual faculties within every individual.
Art can be a form of worship and service. The incandescent core of an artist's soul, a glowing God's eye, infinitely aware of the beauty of creation, is interlocked with a network of souls, each one a facet of the Vision Crystal, part of one vast group soul. The group soul of art beyond time comes into time by projecting symbols through the artists imagination. God's radiant grace fills the heart and mind with these gifts of Vision. The artist honors the vision gifts by weaving them into works of art and sharing them with the community. The community uses them as wings to soar to the same shining vistas and beyond.