The Circular Road: Art and the Religious Imagination

Cy Twombly - Fifty Days at Iliam: Shield of Achilles

In the mists of humanities beginning, art and religion were the same things. We have come a long way since then, unfortunately.

For a long time now there has been a war in American culture between religion and contemporary art, between artists and priests. Contemporary artists are often cast as godless marauders bent on the destruction of “our values” which are inevitably white middle-class Christian values. 

This is a false war. It is predicated on profound misunderstandings of what creativity is and what art can be.  Institutional religions and an obscenely swollen art market benefit equally from this conflict, but it comes at a cost for the rest of us.

As a result of all this noise, many of us cannot say what art is, and really have no working definition of what, if anything, is sacred. We can’t see past the God and Art babble. And yet, it is a trope and a cliché to speak of great art, even so-called secular art, in religious terms: sublime, spellbinding, enchanting, transcendent. Sacred.

Why do we do this?

In this Olio we will examine our assumptions about what art is, what constitutes creativity and look at the “two lives” of art- the goopy and messy creation of art in the studio, and the critical presence of the witness in completing a work of art.

Praxis- learning by doing- will be our guide as we challenge the primacy of the subject/object divide; another false war.  We will interrogate the ancient and heartening realness of metaphor- our worlds are built on an ability to communicate to others, from inside our own light and darkness, via a path deeper than words.

This deeper path is not just for artists and mystics, it is the birthright of all of us. Creativity-an indwelling and generative font-is ready and waiting.

We may not fully understand it, but art proves a still-dwelling magic in the world; art is something sacred in and of itself. It is what we make of what we are made.




Location: Strand Bookstore

828 Broadway, New York, NY 10003

The Rare Book Room at Strand Bookstore boasts an elegant venue for our Friday night residency.




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Other upcoming Olios


Apr 24

Desire

Taught by Jeanne Proust
7:30 p.m. at Berg'n

Sign Up - $15

Apr 25

Art or Image?

Taught by Vishwa Adluri
7 p.m. at Strand Bookstore

Sign Up - $20

Apr 27

OlioHouse | Found Poetry: Literary Collages in Ordinary Places

Taught by Heather O'Neill
noon at OlioHouse | Wassaic, NY

Sign Up - $150

May 3

The Holy Fool

Taught by Geoff Klock
7 p.m. at Strand Bookstore

Sign Up - $20

May 7

Olio Movie Night | Eraserhead

Taught by Geoff Klock
8 p.m. at Nitehawk Cinema Williamsburg

Sign Up - $0

May 10

Cuba and The Commu-Capitalist Reality of Today

Taught by Teresita Levy
7 p.m. at Strand Bookstore

Sign Up - $20

May 15

Marriage?

Taught by Skye Cleary
7:30 p.m. at Berg'n

Sign Up - $20

May 22

Stoicism in a World out of Your Control

Taught by Massimo Pigliucci
7:30 p.m. at The Assemblage | NoMad

Sign Up - $20

May 24

Sex, Pleasure & Intimacy in the Time of Capitalism

Taught by Kim Nguyen
7 p.m. at Strand Bookstore

Sign Up - $20

May 29

Composing Beauty: Mapplethorpe’s Quest for Perfection

Taught by Jeanne Proust
7 p.m. at BAM Fisher

Sign Up - $20


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