Before you get overly concerned that I'm getting too religious, let me assure you that I am not. While I made reference to avoiding
religious topics in the guidelines for SUBMISSIONS in this journal, I never intended to forgo spirituality in the process.
Spirituality is, in my opinion, the essence of life and the guiding force of why we are here. Therefore, I honestly do not believe that
any artist can ignore their spirituality while creating their art. In fact, I do not see how creating true art is possible without recognition
of one's spirituality. You can disagree with me if you wish but, if you do, I ask that you consider the following.
Much of this life sucks. Don't believe me? Watch the news on television, if you dare. Read a real newspaper, if you're not too busy
playing games or texting on your smart phone. Murder, war, hunger and intolerance are facts of life. If you cannot feel for those
affected by the turmoil of our society, then you have no purpose as an artist, or as a humane being.
We all live on the edge in an age where reality is based on a twenty-four hour news cycle and the potential of a nuclear holocaust
is only the push of a few buttons away. Try to have a nice day in the acceptance of this undisputable fact.
Artists, on the other hand, are idealists. They create tranquil paintings and compose beautiful songs in order to show a world that
might be, if only artists were in charge. Artists portray a world that shines like the hope of our dreams. A world that is spiritual,
rather than brutally physical.
Has any artist ever created anything without tapping into the spirit of their subject? I think not. I personally don't see how that would
be possible. A sculptor must tap into the spirit of the subject, as well as the material being used, if that artist is going to create
something of value. A lyricist attempting to put words to a melody must delve into the spiritual power of the musical notes, as did the
composer who wrote them. An architect must first explore the spirituality of the place, whether they consciously realize it or not, if
they are to create an architectural addition to the land that is not only harmonious, but artistically beautiful.
The way I see it, spirituality is not some weird, new-age science. In fact, it's nothing new at all. It is as old as the concept of reality
and is the guiding force behind all creation. Unlike many other aspects of life that divide us, spirituality is a force that ties us together.
For me, the spirituality of the human species…of all life on this planet…and of the Earth itself…is more valuable and important than
any material substance.
In my opinion, artists, by the very nature of their being, are drawn to this spiritual force whether they are consciously aware of it or
not. Furthermore, no artist could ever create anything resembling true art without tapping into this most basic characteristic of life.
Because of this, people look to artists for comfort and to express what they are feeling through the artist's poetry, music, painting,
sculpture, or cinematic expression.
I'm not naïve. I know that artists are not in charge of this world, despite their creative accomplishments. As a result, a pastoral
painting portraying a world that exists in the spirit of the painter is an idyllic illusion. A poet's interpretation of an imaginary world
consisting of healthy farm animals and fields of vibrant, green vegetables, doesn't show the horrific reality of animal slaughter or
the harms of insecticides and other chemical compounds in our food. And a filmmaker's visionary attempt to show a world where
people get along and war is a remnant of our dark past is sadly, only wishful thinking. Still, the spiritual intentions of artists are
extremely important and, without their wishful thinking, how can we ever hope to create a better world?
In order to examine this subject further, I will delve into the spiritual aspects of being an artist through the examples of my photography
and words in this month's SPOTLIGHT. The location that I have highlighted is Acadia National Park, Maine…but what I intend to
convey might just as well apply to any place where an artist connects spiritually.
While I will continue to share my experiences as an artist in upcoming SPOTLIGHT features, my invitation to fellow artists to submit
their stories and artwork still stands. Keep in mind, however, that only artists whose work is of the quality worthy of being published in
Artists Are Always Right will be considered. I take my work as an artist as well as my responsibilities as the publisher and editor of
this journal very seriously. I demand the best from myself and expect the same from others. If you feel that your artwork is of this
caliber, let me hear from you. Complete guidelines are available on the SUBMISSIONS page.
In honor of the topic of this month's UP FRONT, I will conclude by sharing observation number 8 from the SchwartzShirts.com website:
"All of nature is spirit."
Until we connect again…
Douglas Schwartz, Publisher and Editor
Generation upon generation, incarnation upon incarnation, people have attempted to make
some kind of sense out of why we are here, what here is, and where we go when we leave here.
These age-old questions are as relative today as they were a thousand, or ten thousand years
ago. Who reading this can honestly say that they've never pondered these concepts?
In my opinion, artists are the leading force in this conquest of understanding. After all, artists are,
and always have been, the spiritual barometer of the human species. That's because artists are
the most questioning souls to ever say…here I am…what the hell is going on here?
Think about it. What is art? Is art not an examination of why we are here in this dimension…in one
artistic expression or another? Do we not paint, photograph, draw, sing, play a musical instrument,
sculpt, or design something that has never been designed before in order to better understand
these eternal questions?