Art as Incarnation

Exploring how our interior inspiration transitions to the observable world, I contemplated my own artistic process and symbolized the energy moving my material actions on materials and physical elements. Something is made; something is accomplished. I am in awe of the capacities gifted to us. Prints and products available HERE.

When I have created something, I think of the mysterious thoughts and moves within a person forming an idea, all that has gone before to make this person arrange mental concepts, images, formulae, memories of sounds which excite the hope of birthing something into the world. The energy of that interior excitement causes bodily action which changes or remixes the exterior world resulting in the becoming of something which was not there before. It is spirit incarnating materiality. I discuss this process in my book Your Table of Creation. (ebook, or print) (video playlists: Introduction, or Inspiration). (See the end of this post for authors who have corroborated my experience.)

What is happening in that passing over from our interior inspiration to the outward actions and objects? I have been observing this phenomenon in myself all my life, primarily in art making, but recognizing it in all my interior energy moving upon my surrounding world. I am aware that I make choices in response to inspiration, which reveals my interior life to the outer world.

The power of creation is operative in our inner selves spiritually. It is pre-material but becomes evident in the sensations of our physical bodies which we identify variously as inspiration, excitement, interest, curiosity, impulse, desire, etc. Feelings draw us into imagining ideas and motivate us to choose actions and assets engaging our intellect and strength in new creations. This is the Will which has motivated the development of all things and is moving us conscious members of the Cosmos ahead in the on-going Creation. In each of us this is comparatively minute and incremental in the universe, and from our perspective, now involves billions of other creators working on our evolving universe.

When we commune with the Spirit, we align with the Will creating the universe and receive the peace and confidence to choose and form our contribution well. Innovations which we might not have considered otherwise become paths to newness. Redemption becomes a norm moving through even mistakes and complex challenges. We create to meet gaps in our current circumstances, as well as to follow our impulse into the future, building with each contributing step.

We can pursue greater sensitivity to the Will of Creation through contemplative practices and grow in abilities of building the evolving universe. On the other hand, we can ignore spirituality and live destructively, or only aimlessly satisfying material appetites.


As we take action to combine and mix the elements which we have pulled together, the Spirit and materiality collaborate forming a new thing. The resulting thing is significant for universal development by virtue of the principle that all things influence each other like cells in a body. Given that our choices are the outcome of all that has gone before us, making a new variation is like a plant growing a new bud; we are original and still connected.

Admittedly this view requires a measure of faith, trusting that one’s actions and accomplishments, no matter how small or unrecognized by others, still have effect, importance, and value. If we hold in our inner selves the optimistic creed that we are valid, loved by God, and empowered to make a positive contribution, our movement in the world furthers the move of Creation toward the fulfillment of the Cosmos.

Dealing with Our Limits

Never is the outward result of my contemplative inspiration all that I had experienced in my soul, at least as others observe it. As countless artists dealing with their final “version” have confessed, “It is as close as I can get.” And I would add, it is whatever the observers experience when they encounter the creation. They are not going to enter into my interior soul which, anyway, has long moved on from that experience, but will bring the vast mix of their own background to my creation making a combination unknown to me. Ultimately, I am not making permanence. These are marks and objects that an inspiration caused me to make in a past time.

Can a spiritual epiphany cause the artist to create a permanent masterpiece? The nature of materiality is temporary. So, my masterpiece will probably not last as long as the boulders on the hillsides near my home.

What lasts is the onward movement to which I contribute within the spirits of other people, the choices which they make in the influence of my choices. My creations can be increments of wisdom passed on to observers, nudges ahead, inspirations along the way for those I will not meet in the flesh but who will flow out from the stream I am part of.

This prospect should at least encourage creators that their work is making a difference. In turn this should engender increased optimism and output, as well as care in making choices. Experiencing deep spiritual grounding, as I describe in the inspiration stage, gives focus, confidence, and freedom in the choices of the execution and exhibition stages even in spontaneous improvisation.1 The individual creator experiences their own development both as they affect, and are affected by others. I see this as part of the development of humanity.

This view gives me optimism in creating, freedom to follow my inspiration, a sense of purpose in trusting the Creating Will flowing through me forming the yet to be.

Some further reading that corroborates my observations and experience:

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
The Divine Milieu, The Phenomenon of Man (The Human Phenomenon), Teilhard de Chardin: A Book of Hours (Kathryne Deignen and Libby Osgood editors)
Ilia Delio
From Teilhard to Omega (editor), Re-Enchanting the Earth: why AI needs religion,
Raimon Panikkar
The Rhythm of Being, Christophany
Brian Swimme and Mary Evelyn Tucker
Journey of the Universe
Ben Quash
Found Theology: History, Imagination and the Holy Spirit
Thomas Berry
The Dream of the Earth
Richard Rohr
The Universal Christ

1 In the case of the spontaneous improvisation, or autonomic movement, what is being done is mysterious. Like my experience of glossolalia (speaking in tongues), the feeling of inspiration is trusted and action is taken in faith that we are working as instruments of God beyond intelligibility; we trust that the Spirit is accomplishing something beyond our own rationality. It does turn out that what we have already learned and experienced is incorporated into the improvisation and increased skills enable clearer expression in the chosen medium. For example better improvisation in music draws from the musician’s internalized “archive” of chords, keys, rhythms, and technical knowledge of the instrument. This is true in the particularities of any medium of expression both in the arts and in other forms of expression from athletics to business.

2 Responses

  1. Carlton Turner

    A deep and contemplative look at the creative action we are all invited into. I recognize the themes from the book list below. A nice compilation. Thank you.

    • markart

      Thanks for taking time with this, Barry. Your input through the years has been important to developing these thoughts.