Sacred Arts: Session Fifteen – Installation Art and the Art of Space

Email to Participants

Our next session is on [date]. We talk about space all the time – not just outer space, but safe space, and sacred space, and taking up space, and creating space, and walking through space, and personal space. As multi-dimensional beings in a multi-dimensional world, we are always navigating space, even if we don’t consciously notice it.

In our next session, we’ll be exploring space as well as a genre of art that re-imagines the spaces we are in and how we move among them. Installation art – whether inside or outside, whether performative or static, whether temporary or permanent, whether static or moving, whether silent or audible – is unique in its power to transform both the space it exists in and our own experience of being in a particular space.

Readings and Videos

Exercises

  • Engage and encounter a piece of installation art – remember to follow the process: (Note that if you are not able to personally see an installation, you might engage a video from Santa Cruz, Bolivia, Kusama’s “Infinity Mirrors” or from the Barbicon Art Gallery.)
    • Observe in silence. Look with your heart, mind, body
    • Initial impressions. Note what you have observed.
    • Learning: learn about the art – who made it, when, why, the style/school, etc.
    • Sharing: reflect in your journal on the impact, meaning, and connections you are making with this installation.

Questions for Reflection

  • Have you personally engaged in an art installation in the past? As you describe it and your reaction, how did the work influence your emotions? Did it seem to “touch your soul” as you experienced the art?
  • What insights did you have about the art and artists from the list of notable installation artists? You might bring photos or videos on your mobile device, or send links to me, your facilitator, so that we can all observe the installations you found intriguing.
  • Our first source, “Direct experience of that transcending mystery and wonder, affirmed in all cultures, which moves us to a renewal of the spirit and an openness to the forces which create and uphold life” affirms life experiences, such as finding the thin spaces in life. What has been your experience with thin spaces?
  • In “Are You a Spreader?” How do you use space with your body? What does it mean to take up too much or too little space in multicultural environments?

As a Reminder

Our shared observation during our last session was the various images of gardens we brought to share with one another.

I look forward to being with you!

In faith,

Session Plan

Gathering (5 minutes)

Note for Facilitators:

Allow for some chatter, settling in, and other busy-ness;be gentle but firm as you call people in to listen to the reading and check in.

Chalice Lighting, Opening Reading, and Check In (25 minutes)

Our opening reading is “Bring Us Close to the Earth” by Rev. Lyn Cox:

Spirit of Life,
Ground of our being,
Root of unified mystery
Growing into myriad branches of expression,
Bring us together now.
Bring us close to the earth,
Ear to the whispering grass,
Quietly,
Attentively,
Waiting with slow breaths,
Listening for the very stones to cry out
With their rocky stories of
Tectonic plates meeting and parting meeting
Their mineral memories of
Hadean days, molten rocks flowing and joining
Their ancient legends of
Stars born out of the collapse of other stars
Help us to re-member.
Help us to piece together
Our one-ness with matter,
Our one-ness that matters.
With one more deep breath,
May we rise, star-stuff walking and rolling
Across the surface of an impossible blue-green planet.
May we join together to heal what is divided.
May we find wholeness within, without, among, between.
Eternal Source, Seed of the Universe, help us to grow peace.

What are you carrying in your heart tonight? How is your spiritual practice going?  Your work with your spiritual director? Do you have anything to share from your creative work- either something you’ve observed or something you’re working on?

Covenant Review (2-5 minutes)

Note to Facilitators:

Use whatever process your group has established to stay current with the covenant, including reading it out loud together at each session.

Is there anything about the covenant that we should address?

Exercise (10-15 minutes)

Note to Facilitators:

This file (Sacred Arts – Session 15 Finger Labyrinths) has 5 different labyrinths; print several copies of each page so that participants can choose among them.

Make sure you have markers, crayons, yarn, glitter glue, and other crafty items available if participants want to travel their labyrinth in art.

Finally, select some meditative instrumental music that will last about 7 minutes; this will give participants time to engage with the labyrinth. If you don’t have a piece you like, play the audio of this YouTube video: https://youtu.be/tX6R7l-lmhI

When we think of space, we often think big, but sometimes it is the small spaces that become meaningful or insightful. For our exercise today, we are going to go small, into our own personal labyrinths.

I’ve printed out five different labyrinths; please select one that appeals to you. Over the course of the next several minutes, be in the space of the labyrinth. You may trace the labyrinth with your finger, or a pen, or another object of your choice, allowing yourself to be in the space and experience the labyrinth. You may also choose to travel the labyrinth by decorating it with markers, yarn, or glitter.

I’ll play some quiet background music, and when it ends, I will invite you to exit the labyrinth for a few moments of reflection.

(When music ends)

I invite you now to come back from the labyrinth.

Invite reflection with one or more of the following prompts:

  • What was that experience like for you?
  • Did you feel like you were in your own space?
  • Did it feel bigger or smaller?
  • For those who chose to travel using art, can you describe that experience?

Invite other reflections and observations.

Shared Observation (20 minutes):

Note to Facilitators:

There are two videos; the first is the piece to observe; the second is the artist talking about the creation of the piece. Make sure you have sound enabled. BE SURE NOT TO SHOW THE VIDEO TITLE when playing the first video!

Video for Observation.

Today, we’ll look at this piece of installation art and engage it with our four steps:

  • Observe in silence. Look with your heart, mind, body. (2 minutes)
    (play the clip)
  • Now, I invite your initial impressions: what did you observe? (5 minutes)
  • The best way to tell you about this piece is to let the artist, Janet Cardiff, tell you.
  • Now, I invite your reflections on the impact, meaning, and connections you are making. Would anyone like to share a thought or two? (10 minutes)

Reflections (50 min):

Note to Facilitators:

Invite participants to choose the prework observation, reading, or reflection question that most intrigued them. (Participants often reflect that the readings inform their observations and experiences but don’t necessarily lead them into deeper discussion; often, they set the stage for the individual and shared observations or their own creativity.)

  • In the prework, you were asked to observe some installation art. What piece caught your attention? What did you observe? How do you connect with this installation?
  • How do you connect with the art form you chose? Are you a practitioner, spectator, first timer? How does that affect your approach to this art?
  • How was your spirit touched by this form? What lessons might this form teach you?
  • Have you personally engaged in an art installation in the past? As you describe it and your reaction, how did the work influence your emotions? Did it seem to “touch your soul” as you experienced the art?
  • What insights did you have about the art and artists from the list of notable installation artists? Please share photos or videos.
  • Our first source, “Direct experience of that transcending mystery and wonder, affirmed in all cultures, which moves us to a renewal of the spirit and an openness to the forces which create and uphold life” affirms life experiences, such as finding the thin spaces in life. What has been your experience with thin spaces?
  • In “Are You a Spreader?” How do you use space with your body? What does it mean to take up too much or too little space in multicultural environments?

So What? (10 minutes)

How does this reflection relate to your spiritual journey? Your creative work? What are you inspired or challenged to do next?

Gratitude and Closing (5 minutes)

As you prepare to pack up and clean up, each person, as moved, says one or two words about something from this session for which they are grateful or how they are feeling in this moment. After everyone has said a word, close with a brief statement of thanks and appreciation, and clean up art supplies as needed.

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