Looking at Art

“Looking at art can be as necessary, as nourishing as opening the window, as inspecting one’s soul through the eyes looking back in the mirror. Art offers a window that opens into self and other. Not a literal window as in a Matisse painting, but an opening that allows us to look outside ourselves, into ourselves. Art reflects and transmits light and dark, spirit and soul, awareness, the invigorating, refreshing challenge of a new vision.”

-J. Gendler from ‘Notes on the Need for Beauty’

Art Saves Lives

From Sacred Art Studio June newsletter:
Driving around town, I often see a bumper sticker that says, Art Saves Lives. And I say aloud to myself–to the universe, “oh yes.” I believe in my heart that if it hadn’t been for painting, I might not be alive today. Art saved my life and continues to…every day. I’ve often said this to people (and write of my story often here at my blog) though many may not know the extent of what that means for me. Twenty-two years ago, I was in the darkest period of my life in the wake of my brother’s death from AIDS followed by the sudden death of my mother nine months later. Feeling alone in my grief, I began a rapid descent into the underworld, abusing alcohol and sex. I lost count of how many times I drove drunk and thank the gods that I didn’t get thrown in jail or worse–kill someone. By this time, I was on collision course with my own premature death. Although I had studied fine art as an undergraduate, I was working long hours at my first design job out of college, so there wasn’t much time for painting; although I always had my easel set up in the corner of my apartment. A canvas silently waiting for that one moment to arrive. I learned very quickly that our culture does not deal well (if at all) with death or grief and over time I became more and more isolated. One fortuitous, albeit drunken night, I picked up a brush and began to paint. For me, that painting (shown below) was the start of my healing journey.
Livingstone Daisy with Urn ©1991 Amy Livingstone
My work as evolved over the years and illustrates a slow emergence from the dark into the light to the sacred art that it is today. Out of my grief came deep compassion and a new worldview which has guided me over the years in serving the healing of our world. Art as sacred activism.

Painting (or sculpting) continues to ease my aching heart around the ecological crisis. When I’m feeling despair for the earth and her creatures, painting, creating beauty, is what sustains me. To quote author and environmentalist Terry Tempest Williams: “How do we find beauty in a broken world? By creating beauty in the world we find.” The video for the “Lovers of Creation” is in process (coming soon) and am at work on a large “Interfaith World Tree” painting. Lately however, in the early hours of the day, I have been exploring small “Odes to Beauty” inspired by my garden. Art as meditation. (See more paintings at the Sacred Art Studio Facebook fan page.)

Ode to Beauty: Morning Glory
This practice as emerged out of suddenly becoming a caretaker for my elder father and his wife. Witnessing their suffering–both physically and psycho-spiritually–is heartbreaking and challenging. I believe that all the work that I have accomplished spiritually and professionally has led me to this place. I also know from my life’s journey that my creative process will continue to be my saving grace as we travel this path together.
I share my story with you and encourage you to pick up a paint brush or a pen. A guitar. Dance. Sing. Imagine a world where art and creativity are valued above war, greed, and material ‘success.’ My new bumper sticker reads “Make Art. Make Love. Make a Difference.”What does yours say?

For love of the EARTH!