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Archive for March, 2013

The Secret Muse: Intuition and the Sacred Process of Creativity

Kim Chestney Harvey, etherial material series, #1

Kim Chestney Harvey, etherial material series, #1

The Muse Dialogue continues our discussion on the intersection of art and the spiritual experience with a reflection by Kim Chestney. Chestney is an artist with a long personal commitment to painting and an arts administrator in her role as the Director of the Arts + Technology Initiative at the Pittsburgh Technology Council. She is also the author of a book that explores how spiritual experience leads to artistic creativity and expression.

In this article, she reflects on the role of intuition in the creative life, and on the source of intuition. In the process she makes an argument on behalf of the “muse inside us all.” Read on in Chestney’s “The Secret Muse: Intuition and the Sacred Process of Creativity” (click here to read full article).

Reflections on Theological Aesthetics: Overlooked Perspective on Artistic Creativity or Passé Thinking

William Blake, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell

William Blake, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell

For centuries in cultures around the world, art was conventionally linked to the metaphysical and the religious. Yet in the contemporary age, we tend to veer away from the idea of theological aesthetics. The discourse of discussing art hedges on the theological question by treating even religiously motivated work through the language of cultural studies. Yet Andrew Swensen wonders if the thought of our most theologically motivated artists and aestheticians might then become only history lessons. What are we to do with the likes of Kandinsky’s Concerning the Spiritual in Art or the poetry of Blake, which is so rooted in theological motivation? Swensen writes, “For a variety of reasons, we have largely steered away from considering a connection between art and the area of religion, theology, spirituality and metaphysics.”

Read on in our latest offering from The Muse Dialogue, “Reflections on Theological Aesthetics: Overlooked Perspective on Artistic Creativity or Passé Thinking” (click here for full article). 

An Interlude: The World of Online Discussions on the Arts

by Andrew Swensen

Over recent weeks, The Muse Dialogue has had a series of very productive exchanges with other efforts in online media, and I want to acknowledge those who are also laboring on behalf of the arts. It is in the best interest of all of us, in the best interest of the arts generally, to cultivate those connections and to expand the reach of each of them. So I am taking this morning to express our gratitude for this work and to share a few resources that may interest our readers. For those visiting The Muse Dialogue based on recent referrals to our series on young musicians, those articles can be found in the table of contents to that issue – and we encourage you to explore the rest of our site when you are done reading those pieces.

Greg Sandow has been composing a blog for, in which he has taken a hard look at the future of classical music. In the site overview, he writes, “For years we’ve been talking about a classical music crisis. And the crisis is very real … We now have to ask whether classical music, in its traditional forms, still is sustainable. The answer, I think, is ‘probably not.’” In a post this week, he discusses specifically the role that conservatories play in the crisis of classical music, and argues persuasively for the need for innovation — an innovation that he sees as largely absent. We encourage all of our readers to have a look at his most recent post, which assembles a thorough list of those trying to innovate and well characterizes the barriers that the conservatory system imposes on innovation.

Before we leave the world of music, I want to put out another resource that has been reposting some stories from TMD, The Classical Digest. The Classical Digest does an excellent job of gathering news, commentary and video from the world of classical music, and it is an excellent resource for finding material from around the world.

An interesting connection has come our way from New York through the work of Frances McGarry. A veteran of the theater both on stage and behind the scenes, McGarry has launched an effort in arts advocacy, which includes two initiatives that we recommend. First is a collection of 100 stories from the arts, and McGarry is gathering these stories leading up to Arts in Education Week, September 11-17. McGarry has also begun an online video series, First Online With Fran, and the initial episode presents an interview with Angelina Fiordellisi, Artistic Director of Cherry Lane Theatre.

From the other coast, Oregon specifically, comes Combustus. Combustus is an online magazine created by Deanne Piowaty, and it is a beautiful site that offers a variety of interviews and stories on the arts. Piowaty has done excellent work in crafting stories from across all art forms, and we heartily recommend a long, lingering browse of her site.

I have had some very rewarding correspondence with Greg, and some heartening phone conversations with Deanna and Fran. Thank you all.

We want to thank all of these individuals for their work, and for their interest in The Muse Dialogue. We can never learn too much about the arts, or care too much about their future in our schools, in our public spaces, and in our lives.

A Trip to a Craft Show, To Find Art

One of a Kind Toronto (Photo: OOAK Toronto (c))

One of a Kind Toronto (Photo: OOAK Toronto (c))

Alexandra Holness enjoys visiting the One of a Kind Show, an annual exhibition of creative crafts presented in Toronto. Yet this experience leads her to questions regarding the distinctions made between art and craft. Craft has a useful function and is often created with the intention of selling, and because of these two facts many have placed it in a place somewhere below true “art.” As Holness writes, “So, as it seems, if a piece of art serves some utilitarian purpose or is designed primarily to reap financial profits, it no longer quite deserves that coveted “art” title. This bothers me.”

In this article, Holness takes up the challenge and argues that craft represents the product of imagination and creativity, and so possesses the hallmarks of art — and does not deserve the subordinate position that it is often given. Follow her reflections in “A Trip to a Craft Show, To Find Art” (click here for the full article).


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