“Art is a Gift”: Art as Spiritual Practice class visits artist studios

By Louise Victor, CARe Spring 2019 course instructor

Recently the CARe class Art as Spiritual Practice went on a field trip to the Industrial Center Building (IBC) in Sausalito. The ICB is a historic landmark building with deep roots in the area’s ship building past,  which has been repurposed as a vibrant community of artists. 

Elizabeth Giesler in the studio

We visited the studios of artists Elizabeth Geisler, Sophy Bevan, John Kunzweiler and Leslie Allen. The artists were present to answer questions and discuss their work. 

Afterwards we discussed the experience and what we gained from it. These are some of our observations. 

John Kunzweiler in the studio

A finished painting on the wall of a gallery or museum has quite a different sense to it. In the artist’s studio, you can get right up to the work, while looking at all the materials that formed it. You look around the studio and see a vital part of the process of making the work: the brushes, paint, drawings, inspirational quotes and artists’s writings. When you can hear the artist talk about how they work and the importance of this work to their lives, the work takes on greater depth and meaning.

Sophy Bevan in the studio

There is a common drive to communicate or express something that you can’t name. This drive was present and visible in the works of the artists and to see it in the space in which it is conceived is very powerful. We likened it to being in a spiritual space with a connection to the infinite. It is so much bigger than ourselves. The creativity in the building reminded us of that infinite creativity we all possess.

Leslie Allen

One of the artists spoke of art as being a gift. No one can own a work of art. It is a gift for you and it is a gift for others. An artist puts their work out into the world, they make themselves vulnerable. But when It enters the world, they cease to be the owner of it. People will attach their own meanings to it and in this way the work lives through the centuries. 

To quote a student, “Hearing in detail how these works are conceived and executed opened me up to possibilities. What’s going on in there is antithetical to cynicism. This is creation, this is beauty and it is also ensconced in dedication to your craft. This is the best field trip I have ever been on.”

“The gang” – students in the “Art as Spiritual Practice” course, with instructor Louise Victor

This trip was made possible by a Spring 2019 Faculty Arts Enrichment Grant from CARe. Find out more about securing funding for an arts-based field trip or experience here: www.gtu.edu/centers/care/grants-writing-prize