Art as Ritual – a Search for Meaning

This is attributed to Pablo Picasso – The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls.  

Picasso was well aware of the importance of self-expression, as these words indicate. This one reminds me that the creation of a ritual, such as SisterCircle does, requires a release from the ordinary. I find that to be true, whether it’s a personal project or a turn of the Wheel of the Year.

I wonder, as I explore the many layers of circles that surround me, as I come into and out of my experiences, whether art is an expression of a journey, a ritual. And those among us who put something on paper, or create something to be seen, are we simply performing our own rituals. So, it seems when I create something, I am performing one. It takes me from the dust of everyday life.

Just as the purpose of a ritual for me varies with the time of the year, the purpose of my art varies. Sometimes I look for an interesting subject. Or maybe a story in the image. Or just play with colors. Actually, my visual expressions require many of the same qualities as a ritual done by SisterCircle, for example.

Here are the steps.

  • Gather materials and choose a site
  • Assign the contributors’ roles
  • Choose the medium – size, color, texture
  • Perform the creative activity
  • And, finally, Offer the results for viewing

SisterCircle has a tradition… and that tradition centers around the Wheel of the Year. We’ve been creating and participating in rituals for over 23 years. Together, we hatch a plan, do all of the preparation, and execute the design. Many times I have marveled at how it all comes together, even at times when some of us are ill, or too busy to come, or out of town. It just works.

Now, one of the differences in creative actions is the goal. Perhaps the goal is the experience of someone outside the creator. In a religious ritual, on the other hand, the goal is the involvement of a group, large or small.

In my art, does it matter? Is that how other artists look at their work? I don’t know. Imagination is personal. As are some rituals.

I found this, by one Sharon Devlin:

The purpose of ritual is to change the mind of the human being. It’s sacred drama in which you are the audience as well as the participant and the purpose of it is to activate parts of the mind that are not activated by everyday activity. . . As for why ritual, I think that human beings have a need for art and art is ritual. I think that when we became sapient, we became capable of artistic expression.

Rituals are mindfulness, generosity, self-reflection, meditation, above all, an expression of our connection to each other, to ourselves and to the world. Blessed Be.

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