Spirituality in personal practice and teaching
The view put forward above explains why spirituality is important for art and its education and why without a holistic view of spirituality creativity may hamper. Therefore, this research acts as a guide to develop me as a practitioner as well as an artist-teacher. Realising that education does not only depend on theory or the creation of new knowledge but also 'adopting some course of action' (Carr and Kemmis 2004, p. 108), I would now like to have a look at my own art as well as teaching practice.
The research on spirituality and art education inspired me to create an artwork that could present my vision of spirituality. The idea was to demonstrate visually my understanding of the spiritual dimension. Somewhat convinced with the idea of Kandinsky that between the boundaries of a square, a circle, or a triangle, 'lie an infinite number of forms' (Malorny 2007, p. 65), I began my experimentation with basic forms and gradually moved to identify new ones. However, not all the drawings I created could match the scribbles on my mind and I repeatedly felt that the compositions were mere imitations and devoid of any spiritual fervour. Some works looked like digital copies of Kandinsky while others resembled the works of Mondrian. I was convinced that my works do not display the desired spiritual ambiance. During this chaotic time, I started to question my practice. If my work cannot display its central idea of spirituality then it is not worth doing. How could my work reflect spirituality and present a fresh idea? Knowing that 'art is not produced in an empty space,' (Efland 2002, p. 39) and art seizes to 'remain art if it becomes a purely theoretical contemplation of ideas for it would lose its relation to the sensuous whereby it becomes art' (Davey 2006, p. 17), I decided to carry on testing and refining my ideas. I was looking for an opportunity or an inspiration that could bring a spiritual spark into my visual. I decided to look at the works of earlier artist Hilma ef Klint as well as contemporary artist like Frank Stella and Aelita Andre. Imbibing the patterns of these artists, it became clear to me that during the process of making art, the spirituality of an artist gains momentum and two factors namely 'Space' and 'Time' allow artists certain flexibility to nurture spirituality. Space opens the possibility of spiritual pursuit, and allows time to engage with 'silence, stillness and reflection,' expertise needed to make sense of the surroundings and the world, while time enables the senses to participate with the 'present moment of experience' (Hyde 2008, p. 162-163). Therefore, I felt that space and time was needed to contemplate on the inner-self, followed by a critical analysis of my visual vocabulary. This investigation generated profound possibility for developing new visual material. I moved away from solid contours and introduced fluttery lines and jagged forms to suggest a sense of vibration and pulsation. It was overwhelming to see my new forms worked well and I was able to project my mental image of spirituality correctly.
Spirituality according to Chang and Boyd (2011, p. 159), 'is closely linked to the development of pedagogy,' therefore, both art as well as teaching art require spiritual insight. To check the effectiveness of my visuals, I set out to showcase my work in the art class where I teach as a part-timer and check the reaction of children. I was surprised to realise that children did not pay any attention to my drawings; instead, their faces looked scary and terrified. Trying to understand this unease, I heard some uncomfortable sounds and upon enquiry, children told me they feel 'my work is on fire,' because it looks like tiny flames. This really disappointed me. However, knowing that 'good art teaching, like good teaching in general, draws upon knowledge and understanding of art content and of students' (Boughton et. al, 1996, p. 98), and the knowledge of art comes 'from the social world of art itself,' (Efland 2002, p. 40), I thought it wise to introduce my students to the concept of spirituality. In so doing, my objective was to encourage them to look and create artworks inspired by intuition rather that tuition. I was astonished with the fact that children were too quick to grasp the idea as if they knew everything and just needed an introduction. Children carefully listened to my presentation of other dimension and their cross-questioning made me curious about my own spiritual thoughts. Consequently, I got mixed response when I showed the children my works the next time. Some said flies while others branch; however, a few asked, 'where is this' instead of 'what is this'? This endeavour made me realise that an artist-teacher has to clarify his thoughts first, and then skilfully introduce the concepts in his art class. If for any reason difficulty persists, then changing the position as discussed by Atkinson (2007) while discussing the painting of Holbein may help to develop new ways of thinking and teaching.