Life Force Arts Manifesto by Joan Forest Mage

by | September 29, 2014 | Articles, Questions for Spiritual Artists

Life Force Arts Manifesto

by Joan Forest MageaaLFAlogostar

1) We call for a community of artists and audiences to boldly acknowledge, explore and activate the spiritual power of the arts.
2) The spiritual power of the arts affects EVEYRONE. By spiritual we mean the non-material, including the human spirit, universal energy and mystical experience. Every culture and human being ever known has been powerfully affected by the arts. It is a huge disadvantage to lack awareness of the spiritual dimension of the arts. Everyone can benefit by understanding and utilizing the spiritual power of the arts, including what we call the Art Continuum (from perception to expression to art) to be aware of how they are affected by the spiritual power of the arts, and to take charge of consciously activating this power for the highest good of themselves and the planet.
3) The spiritual power of the arts is the elephant in the living room for modern people. All art is inherently spiritual. Yet, modern people, including many in the art world, shy away from discussing the spiritual dimension of both art and human experience.
4) The arts are 100,000 years of the technology of consciousness that help us process our perception, expression and communication. The arts already have methods in place for how to perceive, express and communicate anything we need to ourselves, our fellow humans or the larger world.
5) The arts affect people so deeply because they have perfected the craft of the 3 Modes of Perception and Expression: the senses of hearing, seeing, feeling (auditory, visual and kinesthetic).
6) The Art Continuum is a continuum of experience that begins as basic perception (both of the internal self and the outer world) to expression, communication and interaction with both fellow humans and the larger community of all beings. Art, the craft of perception, expression and communication, is the highest development of this Continuum.
7) There are 4 Fields of human life that art greatly impacts: Communication, Learning, Healing and Community. There has been a tendency for these fields – education, psychology, cultural events – when they are the locus of art activity, to define the spiritual power of art for their own purposes. Vice versa, arts organizations tend to focus on the methodology of creating the art itself, though being aware (often on a subconscious level) of art’s powerful influence on learning, healing and community. We propose to stand that on its head: to ask, “What spiritual effect (human spirit, universal energy and mystical experience) does art have?”
8) In the modern world, people have looked to other fields such as psychology and education to define art’s power to affect consciousness. It is time for artists themselves to fully understand and claim the power inherent in their work, and to bring it fully into the 4 Fields (Communication, Learning, Healing and Community). The Art Continuum helps us understand the connection of basic experience, the 4 Fields and the arts, providing the missing link to allow the arts to truly blossom.
To summarize:

The spiritual power of the arts
• 3 Levels of spiritual power of art: human spirit, universal energy and mystical experience
• 4 Fields of human life that the spiritual power of the arts impacts: Communication, Learning, Healing and Community
• The Art Continuum – the 3 Perceptual Modes (auditory, visual, kinesthetic) that are the basis of human perception, communication, healing modalities, learning styles and cultural expression, and that at their highest level of development are called “the arts”
• 4 Types of spiritual art: Informational, Instructional, Transformational and Cultural

Art is the aspect of what humans do that is non-material and not practical. If one builds a chair with four legs so it is stable, that’s practical. How one designs and decorates it to appeal to values that are non-material is art.
In her book Homo Aestheticus, art historian and theoretician Ellen Dissanayake says,

“What is the difference between play, ritual and art? All of them are about the other world, but play is about inventing other worlds, ritual is about invoking other worlds, and art is about fabricating other worlds.”

This is the definition of art, and its related activities of play and ritual, that we use as the basis of creating a spiritual approach to art.

Art refers to all the arts: visual, literary and performing. These correspond to the modes of perception and expression: visual, auditory and kinesthetic. They are modes of consciousness, ways humans communicate, learn, heal and build community within themselves, with each other and with the world. They are the Art Continuum.

Art is the most foundational of human activities, because it is about perception and expression. LFA, is help people perceive and express through art, and show them how that relates to the other fields of human endeavor: learning, healing and community building.

There is a Continuum – what we may call The Art Continuum – from basic perception to expression, and then finally to the craft of art.

Life Force Arts Foundation (LFA) is an artist centered organization. Each artist works in his or her own spiritual tradition, and is respected for it. There are many religious institutions (churches, etc.) that hire artists to produce art in that particular spiritual tradition. In contrast, LFA starts with the artist and his or her expression of personal spiritual experience, and what that artist wants to communicate to his or her audience about the spiritual aspect of art.

3 Levels of the spiritual power of the arts
• Human spirit
• Universal Energy
• Mystical Experience

Human spirit means art that encourages human beings. For example, to encourage someone who is feeling sad, to show examples of how to triumph over adversity, to welcome someone who feels like an outsider into the human family. Most people feel comfortable with art that has this theme.

Universal Energy means how art expresses or shifts energy. This level of understanding helps people understand such things as energy practices, like Reiki, acupuncture, yoga, divination, dream interpretation, etc. Fewer people are familiar with these things as conscious practices.

Mystical Experience means how art is a vehicle for us to have Otherworldly encounters: with Source, God, Goddess, ancestors, spirit guides, etc. It connects art with Archetypes and storytelling as well. This is the level where many people are cautious, where they want to make sure the art they are participating in accords with their religious and other belief systems, and where they feel safe with the energies and entities that are present.

4 Fields of human life that the arts impact
• Communication
• Learning
• Healing
• Community

Communication means that art is a primary means to perceive the world and express what one perceives. Art is a technology of consciousness, developed for 100,000 years of human history that gives people the tools to perceive and express what is happening within their own psyches and in the external world. Communication includes all activities in which one being expresses his/her thoughts and feelings to another, such as speaking or vocalizing, gesturing, drawing charts and graphs, reading and writing.
Learning means that the arts enable people to learn. Study after study has shown how children learn math better if they have studied music; how people with brain injuries re-learn to speak by singing; how teachers who recognize and work with the learning style of their students improve comprehension.

Healing means all the ways that the arts help us improve our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health. For example, professions such as art therapy, dance therapy, music therapy, expressive arts therapy, psychodrama, etc.
Community means how the arts contribute to bonding people together. From cultural expressions such as poetry, music, dance, visual art and storytelling based in ethnic, linguistic, religious or other group identity; to the whole process of team building in any type of group endeavor, the arts build relationships and communities.

The Art Continuum & the 3 Modes of Perception-Expression
Humans have three basic modes of perception and expression: auditory, visual and kinesthetic. These involve consciousness: how the person perceives, what s/he is experiencing, from both inside him/herself and the outside world. These three ways are also how the person expresses his/her experience to others. This is basic communication, from the inner to the outer world.
Before something becomes what we would call “art”, there is what we may term the Art Continuum: the continuum of basic perception, expression and communication that with craft becomes art. For example, to draw a simple map to show someone else how to get to a destination is a visual communication that is part of the Art Continuum. To call a restaurant and communicate to them your food order is verbal communication, also part of the Art Continuum.
The arts are the repository of 100,000 years of the technology of human consciousness and communication. To know and utilize auditory, visual and kinesthetic ways of perceiving and expressing is the basic building block of a better, healthier life, and one reason that all people need to participate in the arts.
Schools have cut visual art, dance and music out of the curriculum. The attitude seems to be that these are extras; they are only for people who want to become professional artists, dancers or singers.

Yet, no school would ever cut reading and writing out of the curriculum because “it’s only necessary if you’re going to be a professional writer”! Why? Because reading and writing is acknowledged as an essential Art Continuum communication skill to be able to live in the modern world.

But we know that visual and kinesthetic modes of perception and expression are equally important. Depending on how the person processes information, moving, music, visuals, storytelling and many other activities that are embodied in the arts, are absolutely essential for people’s wellness and well-being. It helps them communicate with themselves internally and with others externally; is a natural way to increase and maintain their energy.

We know from many studies that people perceive, learn and express themselves through visual and kinesthetic means as well as through speaking and writing. We know that some people need to see a map to know how to get somewhere, whereas others need a verbal explanation. We know that movement, such as pounding a pillow, helps people process angry emotions. We know that much of talk therapy and pastoral counseling is about helping people revise how they tell the story of their lives, and re-write the ending of the story.

Why would anyone put aside 100,000 years of the technology of consciousness represented in singing, dancing, poetry, visual art, creative writing, storytelling, acting and other arts, instead of embracing and exploring more how they can be used as valuable tools for the average person to solve problems in life?
4 Types of spiritual art
• Informational
• Instructional
• Transformational
• Cultural

These are three approaches to creating art that an artist might take. They could be called the purpose of the art, or the process that the art takes the audience through. This aspect of art was retrieved in an intuitive reading by Aria Norman.

Informational is art gives the viewer/audience information about spiritual matters. For example, in the exhibit Life Force Wheel: The Witness & The Artist the artwork gives much information about what it means to be a witness and what it means to be an artist. Informational artwork makes an idea or theme clearer for the viewer/audience, even more than a logical, verbal explanation might. It informs the viewer/audience about some phenomena in the world, bringing it to consciousness.

Instructional is art that teaches something to the viewer/audience. It nurtures a new ability in the viewer/audience. For example: how to listen to others better, or how to build a canoe that respects the Earth. The genres of storytelling, drama and film are especially suited to Instructional art, but any of the arts have this capacity.

Transformational is art whose purpose is to create a shift of energy in the viewer/audience. This is often a shift of emotion, or of perspective. This art is a portal or a crucible in which change occurs.

Cultural is art that expresses the culture of a group of people: their spirit, identity and history as a group expressed through song, dance, visual art, literature, etc.

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