The emotional life of art and artists: part 2

"The artist is a receptacle for emotions that come from all over the place: from the sky, from the earth, from a scrap of paper, from a passing shape, from a spider's web."  ― Pablo Picasso

"Poetry is not a turning loose of emotion, but an escape from emotion; it is not the expression of personality, but an escape from personality. But, of course, only those who have personality and emotions know what it means to want to escape from these things."  ― T. S. Eliot

“I don't want to be at the mercy of my emotions. I want to use them, to enjoy them, and to dominate them.” Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray

“One ought to hold on to one's heart; for if one lets it go, one soon loses control of the head too.”Friedrich Nietzsche

The Laity Lodge has just posted a registration site for our retreat for ministers to artists in which we will be exploring the emotional life of art and artists. No small task there, to be sure. But it'll be great fun, hopefully also intellectually challenging, relationally encouraging, and practically and professionally helpful. From Facebook's secret research project to alter the emotional state of its users to the enduring aim of marketers to "make you cry" to the central role that the emotions are perceived to play in the work of artists (per the above quotes), it is hardly ever doubted that the emotions matter to human life.

More rarely, though, is there a clear-headed understanding of how they ought to function, what place they occupy in the economy of God, and how Christians in general and artists in particular should cultivate a faithful emotional life, and therefore also a faithful artistry in relation to the emotions. The objective of our retreat, "The Emotional Life of Art & Artists," which will involve Jeremy Begbie as our featured speaker, is to begin to move toward such a clear-headed understanding. Here is the short description that we have written for the event:

Much writing on the emotions today argues that the emotions don't happen in a vacuum. They relate to realities outside ourselves, whether personal or otherwise, and can be faithful or unfaithful to those realities. How can the arts help us respond to God in a way that is emotionally responsible?  That's the question Jeremy Begbie will be tackling, using music (recorded and performed) as his key art form, while David Taylor will be exploring the contours of an emotionally healthy artist. All of this, of course, will occur in the context of lively conversation, the sharing of meals, and the experience of beauty in the canyons of central Texas--no small contribution, we hope, to an emotionally rich experience.

To register for this retreat, go here. To see what we did last year, see here. The dates for the retreat are April 30 - May 3, 2015. And please do pass along this information to anybody you think might be interested in the topic. If you have never been to a Laity Lodge retreat, here are a video and a few photographs to entice you.

Laity Lodge Time lapse from Erik Newby on Vimeo.


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