CSAE stands for the Caucus on the Spiritual in Art Education, and is a group of individuals that come together to support the connection between spirituality and art.
The Caucus on the Spiritual in Art Education (CSAE) seeks to: • Study the relationships between the spiritual, the visual arts and art education in ways that advance pedagogy, research, scholarship, museum and artistic practices related to the spiritual in art education at all levels of practice and in diverse teaching and learning contexts. • Embrace the study of inclusive and diverse content, images and ideas related to the spiritual within contemporary and historical multicultural art and visual culture and a holistic art education paradigm. • Develop and nurture a community of art education professionals committed to advancing the understanding and application of the spiritual in diverse art education contexts.
I was recently voted as Chair Elect for CSAE, which means I will serve as Chair from 2022-2024. I will follow an group of amazing leaders.
Peter London was a Co-Founder for the caucus back in 2008.
Peter London is an artist, master teacher, art therapist, international lecturer, and author of many texts on art, spirit, and nature, including No More Secondhand Art and Drawing Closer to Nature. He has offered his holistic approach to teaching art to thousands of students of all ages, from “art phobics” to professional artists in museums, colleges, art centers, and centers for holistic studies. He is Chancellor Professor Emeritus at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, and is a Distinguished Fellow of the National Art Education Association.
His book No More Secondhand Art was an inspiration for me when I transformed my project based classroom into a studio based classroom. I was introduced to the book when I attended a Summer Teacher Institute at MICA back in 2009. We were asked to create a tree that symbolized our life and our journey. It was a powerful exercise in visualizing parts of self.
Peters work with art and spirituality has been inspiring to me, and I am so honored to be building off of what he helped to start!
I have had to pleasure to meet and work with three other former chairs, Patricia Rain Gianneschi, Nancy Brady and Sheri Klein. I am so grateful for such a wonderful team of people to work with on bringing more light to the spiritual in art education!
The Singing the Bones class with Lydia Violet, and Leah Song from Rising Appalachia, was a deep dive into the history, stories, songs, and cosmology that came before me…. that made me who I am.
They guided us in exploring the cultural inheritance of one of our ancestries through researching myths, folktales, archetypes, musical instrumentation, and song. By the end of the 6 week course, I had a deeper understanding of the cosmologies/myths/stories held within my cultural lineage. I saw so many connections to my Annishinabe heritage and my Scottish Celtic heritage. I was also able to redefine what having a relationship with my ancestors means for me.
Music as Medicine
The Music As Medicine Project (MAM) was created by Lydia Violet Harutoonian, M.A, lifetime musician and dedicated student of Joanna Macy’s. While pursuing her Masters in Philosophy, Cosmology, and Consciousness at the California Institute of Integral Studies, Lydia entered an in-depth study of some of the history and perspectives that have generated our current planetary crisis. For the past 9 years she has studied closely with deep ecology elder and Buddhist scholar Joanna Macy, learning how we can metabolize our pain and care for the world into profound resilience and energy for action. She is also an accomplished musician who is deeply inspired by folk, blues, and protest music traditions.
We are a collection of all the actions, thoughts, and experiences of those who came before us.
I decided to research my fathers heritage, Scottish Irish German, as I have been very much involved with digging deeply into my mothers heritage, Ojibwe. I have always felt like the magic in me comes from my native heritage. Though I have learned a lot through researching Scottish Irish and German heritages… the Celtic people were very magickal.
Uncovering more information about the cosmology of the Celtic people, I found so many similarities to Ojibwe teachings. From drums, rattles, turtles, and ceremonies. It was a huge realization again, that we are all connected and everything comes from within.
Thank you to everyone who participated in the class, it was so amazing hearing everyone’s journey and being inspired by everything that was uncovered.
“People do meditation to find psychic alignment. That’s why people do psychotherapy and analysis. That’s why people analyze their dreams and make art. That is why some contemplate tarot cards, cast I Ching, dance, drum, make theater, pry out a poem, and fire up their prayers. That’s why we do all the things we do. It is the work of gatherings all the bones together. Then we must sit at the fire and think about which song we will use to sing over the bones, which creation hymn, which re-creation hymn. And the truths we tell will make the song…
…The old woman sings over the bones, and as she sings, the bones flesh out. We too ‘become’ as we pour soul over the bones we have found. As we pour our yearning and our heartbreaks over the bones of what used to be when we were young, of what we used to know in the centuries past, and over the quickening we sense in the future, we stand on all fours, four-square. As we pour soul, we are revivified. We are no longer a thin solution, a dissolving frail thing. No. We are in the ‘becoming’ stage of transformation.”
– Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Women Who Run With the Wolves
Another thoughtful creative challenge… the word mood comes from the old English root word for MIND, or
perhaps when we get in a mood it is to remind us to have fierce courage.
Mood… mind… I see this one as realizing that everything comes from within. Our mood is set by our mind… Mindset. How we choose to see the world. How we choose to respond. Do we let our mind control us or are we actively being the awareness outside of the mind.
Having a growth mindset is one of the best ways to maintain awareness of self, and take all challenges as learning opportunities. This keeps our moods in check and allows us to have that fierce courage to step into our authentic selves!
A recent creative challenge word for my students was Illustration. After looking into the root of the word, I was fascinated that it comes from the world for illumination! Spiritual or intellectual enlightenment.
As I thought more about the context of this word and its meaning, which is … a picture illustrating a book, newspaper, etc. An example serving to clarify or prove something. The action or fact of illustrating something, either pictorially or by exemplification.
An illustration is a decoration, interpretation or visual explanation of a text, concept or process, designed for integration in published media, such as posters, flyers, magazines, books, teaching materials, animations, video games and films.
We are enlightened because we see. When there is light, there is illumination. When there is illumination there illustration. When there is illustration there is enlightenment. Art is the key to the divine. To be enlightened, one must see this <3
I know many people who are entrepreneurs, and small business owners. The world is different from the point of view of owning and operating your own business, whether it’s making art to sell at craft fairs and events, or doing reiki in a room you rent at a wellness center.
As practitioners, makers, and vendors we have in essence two jobs. One is to practice and create the thing we are passionate about. The other is to manage and structure the flow of that passion into a sustainable living.
The REVIVE, REFILL, REFRESH retreat was planned with a vision, hosting a space for people to come and find their center. To come and revive, refill and refresh their soul. What we received was far more powerful then we could’ve ever imagined.
There were 8 participants, and 8 vendors. Each vendor presented a 30-45 min workshop about something they were passionate about.
Auria Faith lead us in an active listening activity where we were partnered up and then given a sheet of questions to ask the other person. The trick was we could only listen to their responses. We were not to talk back or have a conversation about the answers.
She also led us in a guided meditation using essential oils to envision our passions as a seed growing and expanding out into the universe. The choice of oils were Lavender, Wild Orange, and Manuka. Most everyone went for the meditative qualities of Manuka.
Merlin Peters discussed Tensor Rings and how he was lead to being creating them. Marlin discusses how the length of the copper wire is important to how the ring works. Tensor rings transmute negative ions into positive flows. It clears out energy from EMF’s as well.
Joanna Baker lead us in a guided meditation to our shadow selves to see and accept ourselves as we truly are, from all points of view. This was a very peaceful meditation for me, as I felt my shadows were simply there as way showers for the path.
Johanna Geister talked about our energy bodies, discussing the different energy lines and points of our body. She also led us in a grounding visualization where we all went barefoot to the grass to connect with the earth and envision our energy flowing through us as we breathed. It was such a beautiful experience with a little mist coming from the clouds rolling over. She also taught restorative yoga which was a perfect ending to the day.
Jill Reed from Green Healing Room shared her journey to practicing stone readings and was available for readings for everyone. She read EVERYONE at the retreat, each reading was spot on and exactly what each person needed to hear. After her readings she gave each person a stone that was called for them. I received two rough cut jades. These stones have really been powerful for me lately. Holding them while I meditate. Jill has a gift to translating messages she’s open to receiving for each person she reads.
I shared how creativity is spirituality, using the flower of life and sacred geometry to tie everything together. Everyone explored creating the flower of life as we discussed how the meditative process opens up your mind to seeing new perspectives. I also was blessed to share intuitive henna with a few people <3
Each of us has a passion and a desire to share that passion with others. Most of our time is spent working on our goals to keep our fire burning, as well as learning ways to share what we know with others. When we do events and vend at places, a lot of energy goes into preparing our gifts, as well as our hearts and minds for the many people we will interact with throughout the event. We rarely have time for our own sacred retreat.
Rarely do we have time to commune with one another. Let alone share and learn from one another. We each have so many gifts we offer the world, but we are also the people who miss receiving those gifts. We give so much of our time to goals, that we rarely have time to be open to receiving.
This sacred retreat was a time for vendors to come together and share and receive from one another. This retreat showed us how important this was for each of us. We need to remember we too deserve to receive our gifts. It gave us time to listen, and process what we learned. To sit and communicate our own experiences and thoughts. To be there for each other, witnessing each others light and standing in our own.
When we heal ourselves, we help others on their journey by sharing what we’ve learned. Supporting one another by holding space for self expression and authenticity is vital, we are all connected.
I am forever grateful for those who participated in the sacred retreat, Revive, Refill and Refresh in August. Miigwetch to all my relations.
Most adults I speak to do not see themselves as creative at all. So before we can “change the system”: we have to first realize how creativity is key to a growth mindset which is vital to true learning. This can only be done if we are actively seeking knowledge of self.
Our imagination is what we use to create our realities. So therefore creativity is spirituality. A creative person is connected to their soul and has unique ways of showcasing their spiritual connection through art and imagination. Spiritual intelligence is an all-encompassing form of intelligence.
Creativity and the use of our imaginations is the first step to everything we do, even our spirituality. When we are praying or meditating, we are using our ‘imagination” to envision our higher selves, our spirit guides, or our prayers coming into fruition. The mind’s eye sets the stage for what we draw to us in the astral realm. Our thoughts and visions of the world come from our perception which is molded and created by our choices and experiences.
Spirituality is an ongoing journey and learning experience from the inside out. Where as creativity is the ability to take that learning and apply it to our reality.
The earth is the Goddess, in all her feminine and receptive energy. Her direction is North. The Pentacle and a bowl of salt are her tools. Her colors are green, yellow, brown, black, and her season: is Winter. The Zodiac Signs: Taurus, Virgo, Capricorn are earth signs.
Earth energy is grounding, bringing us back to the present moment when all else might be up in chaos.
The Earth is the foundation of our lives, as it is both our home and our source of sustenance. The Earth Element is ever-present and highly versatile, manifesting as both soil and seed, and witnessed in the eternal rhythms of growth, harvest, decay, and regeneration.
Earth is represented by the diverse topographical features found all over the planet, including forests, fields, caves, rocks, valleys, and gardens. This “classical” Element is associated with abundance, prosperity, and strength.
Water is life.
It flows… freely or with structure.
It rushes loudly or trickles softly.
Filling the world with its music.
Carrying away all of our thoughts and cares.
Reminding us that nothing stays the same.
Its constant rush is grounding
There’s security in the rush of the water.
While in the Flowing Hollow, I felt the pull of the water. The sound of its song, calling for a beat. <3 Drumming with the water helps release things we are having a hard time letting go. Grounding us in the present moment. Enjoy <3
Diving deep into my shadows, I’ve found a level of insecurity in presenting myself in this new realm of reality.
I am used to engaging and interacting with people of all ages and all backgrounds, in real life. Being in a room of 30 middle school students working on their art produces an energy like no other. Interacting with people one on one while I share the gift of henna produces an energy that I have only found through that interaction.
The giving and receiving. I receive from each person and each student, just as I am giving to them. There is nothing like giving gratitude to each person for sharing their time and energy with me. I would always say, I couldn’t do this without you.
But now I am forced to continue on my path without the real life interaction from other people. So I dive deep… to find ways I can be me, and do what I do without other people around. How do I give my gifts without that energy of the room of students, or the one on one contact with another person?
This is proving to be more difficult for me than I would’ve imagined. I am coming upon so many blocks in my mindset. Now I realize, a deeper shadow I am facing… Insecurities, unworthiness, and self doubt when it comes to presenting myself when there is no one around to reflect back to me. Each person is like a mirror, and I judged how good I was based off of how good everyone else felt. Like their happiness and pleasure in creating was a direct reflection of who I am.
Without those people around… I am here feeling a bit empty. Doing instructional videos online won’t be the same as instructing people in person. This new venture brings up fears surround my ability to share who I am with others and how others will receive what I am giving when not being in the same physical space. I guess it’s just the energy of the week, with the Scorpio full moon, and the adjustment to this new norm in our society at the moment. The only way I will find out is if I keep moving forward and try something new.
I wonder if there are others out there feeling the same way… feeling a sense of loss from the energy of the classroom, or a sense of insecurity in switching our presentations over to a digital platform. I am sure there must be others feeling like I am.
The Frozen movies come to mind… just let it go and head into the unknown.
The big karmic lesson is to learn to let go of the past and more forward into the new paradigm. Let go of the fear, and keep moving forward one step at a time. Remember to have compassion for and be gentle with yourself. The one thing that matters in the end, is simply being your own best friend. You are doing amazing things in this new world. Thank you for sharing what you know, and who you are, with the world. <3
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