Creativity as Spiritual Practice | Omega

Accomplished visionary artists Alex Grey and Allyson Grey are cofounders of the Chapel of Sacred Mirrors (CoSM), an art sanctuary and cultural center in Wappingers Falls, New York. In this interview they discuss dealing with criticism, why they teach, and offer tips for lasting partnership. Read Part 1 of the interview.

Omega: How do your creative and spiritual lives intertwine—are they separate or one in the same?

 

Alex and Allyson: Our creative and spiritual lives are completely entangled and indistinguishable. Integrating creativity as spiritual practice is the core teaching of CoSM. Artists working together form an accelerator of inspired energies that enhance and catalyze evolution. We have three bodies of work between us: Alex's art, Allyson's art, and CoSM, a social sculpture we share with a community.

 

Omega: Not all artists choose to teach. What has teaching taught you?

 

Alex and Allyson: When art is life, teaching is no different than art. Most great traditions view a life as a learning opportunity, a journey of self-discovery and awakening. A good teacher honors the student who has come for mentorship. A good teacher develops devotion and altruism toward students and relinquishes ego and selfish motives. A good teacher is authoritative enough to provide structure and yet open to possibility and opportunity. As teaching partners, we cultivate highlighting and honoring each other's special abilities.

 

Omega: How do you define success in your career? What motivates you to keep creating?

 

Alex and Allyson: In 1985, having taken a therapeutic dose of MDMA, we had a simultaneous vision of building a temple for the Sacred Mirrors series of paintings. Entheon, the sanctuary of visionary art at CoSM, a 9,500 square foot carriage house transformation, is now underway. When Entheon is open and CoSM is endowed, this will be success. We are closer than we've ever been, and it's all been a miracle to this point. Immersing ourselves in a project of unlimited scope has forced us to stretch, take risks, and learn a great deal about ourselves and the world.

 

Omega: What practices do you do on a daily basis to keep creativity flowing?

 

Alex and Allyson: Prayer puts us in contact with spirit worlds. We paint and write much of every day in the studio or on the road. It is our spiritual practice and our life.

 

Omega: What’s one of the most unexpected sources of inspiration for your work?

 

Alex and Allyson: A miracle is always unexpected and all of life and consciousness itself is a miracle. It is a miracle that a growing global community continues to band together with us to cocreate sacred space. Sharing a higher purpose powers an engine for personal and global transformation.

 

We’ve been amassing many mystic perspectives on the visionary worlds and creative process. A Russian Mystic named Berdayev said, “There is the primary creative act in which man stands as it were face-to-face with God, and there is the secondary creative act in which he faces other people and the world.”

 

In our partnership, being inspired by the other is a regular feature that is always filled with surprises. The resilience of our love in the face of the unexpected; our mutual unstoppability, tenacity, commitment, and ingenuity; the source of our individual and collaborative bodies of work lies in the influence of the other.

 

Omega: How have you maintained your relationship for 40 years when so many people struggle in this area?

 

Alex and Allyson: Fifty percent of all couples that marry stay together. It is entirely possible to create a relationship that lasts, and many do. Here's the key: Choose wisely and then stop choosing. Make it work. Communication is everything, and everyone is for loving. The trouble is generally not “over there.” The reward for an enduring relationship is self-transformation. Staying in love is the most fun adventure and worth all you go through to become a better person.

 

That said, abuse, addiction, and resigned complacency cannot be tolerated in an enduring relationship.

 

Omega: How do you deal with both praise and criticism of your art?

 

Alex and Allyson: Art is soul-to-soul communication. Our ears are open to any authentic response to the work. After Alex got a really bad review, he found in his notebooks comments he had written about his own work that were equally scathing. All the bad reviews cancel out when you see tens of thousands of tattoos of your work (or even one). The evolutionary quest includes seeking out and acknowledging mentors. Sometimes people stand in line for hours in the cold to tell us how much our work means to them. When we practice being present in the moment, receive their love, and mirror it back to them, a transmission happens and affirms both our worlds.

© 2015 Omega Institute for Holistic Studies

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