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Friday, December 16, 2011

Report from Michael Howard

Report on
The Visual Art Section Conference
At the Goetheanum

November 24-27, 2011

Michael Howard

If the Visual Art Section meeting at the Goetheanum in November 2010 was shrouded in a dark and troubling mood, the gathering this year was imbued with a more light-filled and creative spirit of renewal.

Significant steps had already been taken at our June, 2011 meeting, concluding with the strong mandate given to Rik ten Cate of Holland to serve as a Section Coordinator for the coming year till our conference in May 2012. Rik had been urged to form a Coordinating Council to work with him in attending to the essential business of the Art Section. This included the forming of the two Art Section conferences that traditionally took place in November and May/June of each year. Most particularly, Rik and the Coordinating Council were charged with facilitating the process of finding new organizational forms, and in particular a new organ of leadership, that would serve the future development of the Art Section.

On the afternoon of Thursday, November 24th,before the conference proper began, two First Class Lessons were held in which the Fourth Recapitulation Lesson and Lesson Five were read in German, followed by an open conversation.

That evening Rik ten Cate warmly welcomed the 70+ members of the Art Section gathered in the Sudatelier of the Goetheanum. The Social Ethic Motto given by Rudolf Steiner to Edith Maryon was spoken in both German and English. Rik then gave a detailed report of all that had happened since the June conference. The following were among the main points:
  1. a)  Rik introduced the four other Council Members; Christiane Schwarzweller, Martin Zweifel, Gottfried Caspar and Michael Howard. He also introduced Tanja Hietsch, who is Seija Zimmermann’s assistant, but who in recent months had done much of the administrative work for our Section.

  2. b)  Rik gave an update on the revising of the contact list of Section members worldwide, emphasizing that a final letter will go out shortly in an effort to have everyone who regards themselves an active member of the Art Section to confirm their contact info or provide an update.

  3. c)  While a year ago the Art Section had no budget, Rik was pleased to report that we have had a modest but adequate budget since June and a comparable budget of E 60,000 is in place for 2012. In addition, our Section has received 2 gifts totaling E1500.
Rik went on to introduce the two main subjects of this conference, and outlined the different ways they would be addressed:
1.Exploring the question of spiritual scientific research within the realm of the visual arts.
  1. i)  Two full lectures by Pieter van der Ree and Heinz Georg Haussler;
  2. ii)  8 workshops meeting three times each;
2.Continuing the process of reforming the Art Section.
  1. iii)  Four formal presentations by Willi Grass, Espen Tharaldsen, Michael Howard and
    Christians Schwarzweller;
  2. iv)  Four Discussion groups meeting two times, plus one session for reporting;
  3. v)  Two plenum discussions.
Rik concluded his introduction to the conference with three questions intended to guide our deliberations about the future of the Art Section:
  1. What does the Art Section need to realize its spiritual tasks?
  2. What organizational and leadership forms will serve those needs?
  3. What process will bring us to the new leadership of the Art Section?
The evening concluded with Elizabeth Wagner saying a few words about her research in regards to developing 8 sets of 12 paintings that were exhibited in the Sudatelier throughout the conference. Each set of 12 paintings started with placing on successive page a different colored wash according to Steiner’s12-fold color circle related to the Zodiac. To each of these different ground colors Elizabeth brought the same sequence of four colors. Each set of 12 paintings was based on the four colors Rudolf Steiner indicated were related to a particular vowel sound. The first color was the color of the planet to which the vowel belonged,. For example, U is related to Saturn
and the color for Saturn is blue, so the first color brought to each of the 12 different ground colors was blue. This was followed by another blue that is the ‘movement color” Steiner gave for the eurythmy gesture of U, followed by yellow as the ‘feeling color’ of U, and lastly, violet as the “character color’ of U. This methodical approach to building up the colors of a painting led to an incredible metamorphosis of motifs through each sequence of 12 paintings, some of which were clearly related to Rudolf Steiner’s painting sketches. As the fruit of a life’s works, it deserved a more in-depth presentation than the occasion allowed, but it was inspiring nevertheless.

I. Spiritual Research in the Realm of the Visual Arts:

1.Lecture by Pieter van der Ree:

Pieter began with the question: how can spiritual scientific research in architecture contribute to

mainstream architecture? He took us on a journey through the history of architecture from the igloo to the BMW Welt building in Munich. Through this Pieter drew our attention to the incredible freedom given to the architect today through the technological developments of recent decades that no longer limits architecture to the box. But, all this freedom begs the question: Are we any closer to architecture truly serving human life and human development? More and more buildings draw upon the full spectrum of the language of form, that have an organic, free-form quality to them, but what is needed for this freedom of form to more truly serve the human being? Pieter’s main point was that we have a long way to go in developing the capacities for a living architecture, for this depends on our developing the capacity for living thinking to a much greater extent. Pieter concluded by showing some examples of his student’s work to indicate how the schooling of architects must strengthen the middle realm where living, pictorial thinking can mediate between abstract thinking, on the one hand, and the practical demands of the physical world, on the other.

2.Lecture by Heinz Georg Haussler:

Heinz Georg recalled how from his earliest days as a student he had the question: Are their laws of

sculpture? He soon realized that no one could answer this question for him; that he would have to search for answers himself. He then described the profound and humbling shock of seeing the work of Michelangelo—what was left to achieve in sculpture? In 1961 he had a further shock when he saw the 2nd Goetheanum and the photographs and models of the 1st Goetheanum. Much of his subsequent work was based on exploring the relationship between the formative forces at work in Michelangelo’s sculptures and those of the Goetheanum buildings. Heinz quoted Steiner from 1912 in which he indicated there was a relationship between the 4-fold human being and the four main reclining figures of the Medici Tomb. This led him to some forty years of study and drawing these figures, searching to discover and experience deeply their archetypal gestures, and eventually publishing his findings in a book. More important than any particular results was the process of asking questions and pursuing them through artistic means. This is what anthroposophy can offer as a new path for art and artists. Heinz then described the evolution of another research project that occupied him for the last 20+ years, namely, the carving of 8 large columns in marble that only recently were placed in a village for handicapped children in Germany. They stand in a circle with two in the East representing Life and Death, two in the South representing Flowering and Fruiting, two in the West representing Light and Dark, and two in the North representing Thought and Will.

3.Research Workshops:

The following workshops explored the question of artistic research in a variety of ways:

  1. i)  Two Approaches to Painting with Dorothea Templeton and Caroline Chanter.
  2. ii)  The Riddle of Counter Colors in the Small Cupola with Peter Stebbing.
  3. iii)  Painting as an Inner Schooling with Doris Harpers.
  4. iv)  Developing the Capacities for Creating Living Architecture with Pieter van der Ree.
  5. v)  Spiritual Research in the Visual Arts with Michael Howard.
  6. vi)  Architecture and Mystery Architecture with Espen Tharaldsen.
  7. vii)  An Epistemology of the Visual Arts with Willi Grass.
  8. viii)  Carving the Schreinerei Pear Tree with Barbara Schnetzler and Steffen Marreel. 
II The Future of the Visual Art Section

A. Formal Presentations:

Four short presentations on the future of the Section were offered:

1. Willi Grass affirmed that the basic aim of the School of Spiritual Science is to cultivate the practice of spiritual scientific research, however, this is still little understood among the members. As for finding new forms for the Art Section, Willi reminded us that the forms are not for us but are to serve human evolution. Can we simply invent new forms of this kind, or are the forms established at the Christmas conference of 1923 still the appropriate forms needed now and into the future? The present forms of the Society and School give every member great freedom to take initiative with others. The task of a Leader is not to judge but to support and coordinate the initiative of the members. Without a Leader it is difficult to unify all the parts as a whole. The challenges of the School cannot be answered by one Section but must be addressed among the members of all Sections. As members of the School we need to research the future. In the 5th Statute Rudolf Steiner is clear that Dornach is only one of many possible centers for anthroposophy. But Dornach has a particular leadership role as a center where all questions can be brought and seen as a whole. Willi concluded with three questions:
  1. i)  Who are those already perceived to be playing a leadership role?
  2. ii)  How can we foster inter-sectional work?
  3. iii)  How is the form of our Society and School still right for the present and future situation?
2. Espen Tharaldsen began with a quotation from a 1911 lecture where Rudolf Steiner suggests that human beings today need to experience buildings with “walls that are not walls”. Espen helped us appreciate this thought by presenting a brief overview of the evolution of human consciousness through the history of temples, making visible that the temple is the human being. Whereas the temples of the past—as with the pyramid—were visible imaginations of the spiritual brought down to the human, today the gesture needs to show how the human being can raise himself up to the spirit. It is in this sense that we need “walls that are not walls”, or living spiritual walls. Espen concluded with the view that new forms cannot be invented but must be born out of the spiritual forces of the Time. In what way are the spiritual forces that were active in shaping the Society and School in1923 the same or different than the forces active today?

3. Michael Howard began by bringing together Willi’s thought about the form of the Society and School given in 1923 being the form needed today, and Espen’s thought from Steiner that humankind needs “walls that are not walls.” Michael was reminded that elsewhere Rudolf Steiner had spoken of the need for “living etheric walls.” This led to the thought that today we need social forms that are not social forms, but living, etheric social forms. The forms of the Anthroposophical Society and the School of Spiritual Science are to be understood and worked with as such living etheric social forms that are not fixed but remain in living movement. With this in mind we can avoid the danger of holding on too tightly to the forms of 1923 without inventing new forms abstractly. The principle of metamorphose, made visible in the forms of the Goetheanum, must be worked with in the forms of the Society and School. Michael affirmed the central importance of Section activity where we work together in person, but he suggested two reasons for strengthening awareness for our individual Section work. Our involvement in the Section originates in our personal experience of working within the spiritual stream of the Michael School, and we must keep in mind that many Section members do not have the possibility of working very often with other Section members. Michael then quoted the sentence: “the whole purpose of spiritual science is to prepare for the 6th cultural epoch.” This suggests a primary task for the Art Section: How can the arts prepare for the 6th epoch? One indication Steiner gives is that human beings will become only more diverse in their inner constitution such that it will require quite new capacities to create social harmony and unity out of such diversity. How can the arts develop the capacities for a social art that will serve communities of aspiring ethical individuals? What will leadership look like if there are no followers but all are leaders? How can we today prepare the way for such a new form of leadership? Michael urged that we put more time and effort into building up individual and local Art Section activity, including in Dornach, so that we see more clearly that at the local level the leadership qualities we need to cultivate are the capacities to engage in spiritual research, while the work at the more regional and worldwide level call for leadership in coordination of the individual and local activity. We have the opportunity to demonstrate in the way we continue to evolve the form of our Section how an artistic experience of metamorphosis can be applied to the metamorphosis of the forms of the Society and School.

4. Christiane Schwarzweller noted that the present exhibition, Goetheanum 1:1, that highlights the Goetheanum itself as a work of art, challenges us to understand this last work of art from Rudolf Steiner. To understand this building we must understand the activity it is meant to serve. She used this analogy to suggest that if we are looking for the form of the Art Section we must likewise look to the activity of the Art Section. For this reason we might use the Goetheanum as the model for the Art Section. As the Goetheanum did not appear out of nothing but arose out of the stream of evolution, we too must try to enter into the stream of forces that have shaped the Section in order to envision how it might metamorphose in a living but spiritually lawful manner. Christiane also gave a brief overview of the history of sacred spaces from Noah’s ark to Solomon’s temple, Chartre, and eventually to the First and Second Goetheanum. Through the image of the Jachim and Boaz pillars and its metamorphosis in the Goetheanum buildings, she suggested that we are now in a time where we have no teacher to guide us directly, but we must guide ourselves. Through the arts we have the tools to do this; through art we can learn the language of the gods and thereby find our way back to the spiritual worlds. Michael’s spear of light is a spear of insight, not a spear for slaying. And through Michael, our ‘I’ can develop the strength to develop freedom in our thinking, feeling and willing, and in this way, find our way to the Christ. Particularly, through art we can develop freedom in the realm of feeling that leads us to cosmic feeling, to the spiritual beings working in and through feeling. And freedom in the realm of willing will allow each individual to realize their individual potential in a way that does not hinder but complements the will of others. Christiane concluded with the thought that we should not be overly concerned about what is right or wrong, but open ourselves to seeing what is needed. We should only ensure that no structure of the Section hinders any individual’s will but allows each to unfold their potential. This is what Rudolf Steiner intended with the Stiftung of 1911. Perhaps the time is ripe for us to realize this ideal through our present efforts in the Art Section.

B. Discussion Groups

There were two sessions in which four discussion groups met to discuss the future of the Art Section. The three questions Rik presented the first evening were used to guide the conversation:
  1. What does the Art Section need to realize its spiritual tasks?
  2. What organizational and leadership forms will serve those needs?
  3. What process will bring us to the new leadership of the Art Section?
The following is a summary of the points made from the reports made by each of the four groups. They are organized according to the three questions above:
  1. Each group explored in their own way why each person belonged to the Art Section, and what they felt the tasks of the Section were in the world. The practice of spiritual research in the sphere of the visual arts was emphasized in each group, especially the need to meet in person to support each other on the inner path of developing the capacities for doing spiritual research. Other tasks mentioned were to cultivate inter-sectional research activity, to exhibit the work of colleagues, especially those less known, to tend the need for art trainings, to find the language for speaking about the anthroposophical art impulse in ways that can be understood by our contemporaries.

  2. In regards to the form of the Section, including the form of leadership needed at this time, the following points were made:
    1. i)  Some felt we should hold back on the question of a Leader and focus on gaining a fuller picture of Art Section activity around the world;
    2. ii)  Look to see who has the capacities for different kinds of initiative such as organizing exhibitions, conferences, newsletters, coordinating activities and facilitating communications;
    3. iii)  The idea of a separate Section for architecture was put forward;
    4. iv)  The difference between a Leader and a Coordinator, and the pros and cons of
      both were debated. Most seem to favor the idea of the members naming a
      Coordinator of the Section, who in turn would form a Coordinating Council;
    5. v)  There were different views about whether to have a small leadership group of 2-3
      or a larger group in order to draw upon a wider scope of capacities, and that would
      include a wider representation of Section activity around the world;
    6. vi)  Servant leadership was mentioned in most groups , along with the picture of the
      heart--not as a pump but as an organ of perception—as a model for Section leadership.
3. Regarding the process by which we go forward, in the written contributions posted on the Section
website before the conference, there were some proposals for how to appoint a new Leader or Leadership Group for the Art Section. At the end of the conference itself, it was noted that no proposals had been made about the leadership process. By inference, as much as by direct statements, it was evident that everyone supported the form that emerged last June, namely, that the members name a leading Coordinator, who in turn would form a Coordinating Council. In other words, there was widespread accord that we should continue with the present form, understanding that this would naturally and organically continue to evolve.

Closing Plenum:

Two open plenum sessions filled the final morning with a variety of announcements--too numerous to
record here—as well as closing thoughts about the process of moving forward and about our next conference in May. Rik urged that we foster the idea of not waiting for some leadership group to take an initiative but that everyone develop their potential to take initiative. For example, wherever we have a question or interest, we should see it as an opportunity to take it up as a research question. Furthermore, we should think about developing ways for people to let others know of their interests so that they might find ways to collaborate whether near or far. He especially encouraged us to take up the research question of how the arts develop social capacities, on the one hand, and how art is a meditative path for developing spiritual organs of perception, on the other hand. Rik hoped we would find ways to go further with these subjects at our next conference scheduled for May 17-20, 2012 at the Goetheanum. And plans have been set in motion to organize a large exhibition in the Goetheanum during the May conference, to which all are invited to contribute 2-3 works.

Lastly, in response to comments and questions about the continuation of the Coordinating Council, all five members of the present Coordinating Council affirmed their commitment to complete their task through our conference in May. They also made clear that the question of who will be Coordinator and who will serve on the Coordinating Council was an open matter to be discussed and decided at the May 2012 conference.

News From the New Art Section Council: Dec.14, 2011

Amersfoort, 14 December 2011

Winter greeting Dear Colleagues!

With this letter we want to wish you a lovely Advent and a wonderful Christmastime. With Christmas, the Holy Nights begin. We hope that these nights will bring your past year to a good closure and that they might open your new year with lots of inspiration. We wish you a very good wintertime, and a happy, healthy and good new year.

We want to inform you about developments in the Art Section.

At the end of November we had a Section conference, as you know. Around 75 colleagues from various parts of the world came to meet each other, to study together and to built up further the Section organisation. Two reports come with this letter: one in German by Martin Zweifel and one in English by Michael Howard.

It is a great pleasure to be able to announce that we came to a decision in November about how to organise our Section in a new way. This form will accompany us for the next few years and we will have to see how it works. It seems to be a form that gives a structure which can hold us on the one hand and, on the other hand, give us enough flexibility. You can read more in both reports.

Right now we want to look forward and to tell you about the new initiatives.

On (16), 17, 18, 19, 20 May 2012 we will have our annual Section conference in Dornach. We will continue working on the capacities of spiritual research in the realm of the visual arts. But we also want to add the theme of inner development, inner schooling. How can the arts strengthen our path of inner development? How can this path strengthen our art?
We also have in mind to extend the possibilities of getting to know each other through our art itself. We will have the opportunity during this conference to show our work in several places in the Goetheanum, in a ‘Section exhibition’. Further information will follow in the spring.

As to spreading this information:
We are still busy working on modernising and cleaning up our Section data lists. Your help is indispensable here.

If you receive this letter by E-mail, then that is good: you are in the new data system.
If you receive this letter by regular mail and if since last September you told us you would like to have information this way, then that is also okay.

But if you did not let us know how you want to receive our information, you should absolutely do so without delay! Please contact us with your postal address and, if possible, with an e-mail address. This letter is the last letter you will receive ‘in the old way’. In 2012, we will only contact the colleagues who have made themselves known.

Please send your data to Tanja Hietsch, mail to:
If you do not wish to respond, you will be able to follow us via the Newsletter, Stil, Das
Goetheanum or on

The new Section Council is happy about all the support we encounter through the colleagues who participated in November and from the mail, letters, and other means of communication from other colleagues who showed their interest. We thank you for that!

With all best regards,

Rik ten Cate
Christiane Schwarzweller Gottfried Caspar
Martin Zweifel
Michael Howard


Thursday, November 24, 2011

Monday, November 7, 2011

Report From Free Columbia

All improvement in the sphere of politics is to proceed
from the ennobling of character- but how is character
ever going to be ennobled while under the influence of a
barbaric political constitution?  Presumably we have to find
an instrument that could enable this, an instrument not
provided by the state, that could open up living springs which,
whatever the political corruption, would remain clear and true.
-Friederich Schiller on culture and fine art
Report from Free Columbia in 2011-2012

If you travel north by train from NYC along the arm of the sea (the Hudson River), you will come to the town of Hudson in the county of Columbia.  One of the many things going on in the area of this whaling town become antique hub is a project dedicated to the practice and study of art and culture called Free Columbia.  It has been growing over the last four years.  It began as the collaboration of two artists but now includes the contributions of many more.  The main activity of this project has been the creation of workshops, conferences, puppet shows, lecture evenings and, most ambitiously, a nine month full time course.  This course is currently in its third year and it includes painting, drawing, puppetry, eurythmy, philosophy of aesthetics, Goethean observation and study of anthroposophy.  Our faculty includes Laura Summer, Nathaniel Williams, Ella Lapointe, Karen Derremeaux and Henrike Holdrege. In addition we welcome guest lecturers, Sarah Hearn, Craig Holdrege, Seth Jordan, Michael Howard, Ted Pugh, Fern Sloan, Doug Sloan, Patrick Stolfo, and Steve Talbott. With the participation of such able faculty Free Columbia can be seen as an experiential Foundation Year in Anthroposophy as well as an introduction to painting.  

                  No matter the project at hand, Free Columbia is always an attempt at approaching art’s spiritual aspects.  Working with spiritual science and Steiner’s anthroposophy is a great leaven in this.  Free Columbia is a place to cultivate the dialogue on culture with Kandinsky, Rothko, Van Gogh, Beuys, Cezanne, Goethe, Schiller, Merlou Ponty, Gadamer, Klee, Steffen and Deleuze among others.

Over the last year the project has grown.  The year long course has quadrupled in size.  The work is intensifying with the growing number of people investing their participation. 

Free Columbia has a circle of supporters who value what we are trying to do.  They contribute materials and supplies, books and monthly financial pledges.  We are trying to create an atmosphere at Free Columbia that supports creativity and autonomy, so we are not interested in external accreditation or funding with strings attached.  We are also trying to make it accessible to those who should participate in it due to their interests and abilities regardless of their financial means.  There are no fixed tuitions for participation in any courses.  The annual expenses are presently a humble $55,000. 

We are at the beginning of this year’s journey. If you would like to follow along with us block by block, you may do at

We will accept applications for the 2012-13 year from March 1st to May 1st 2012.

Information about the course and the summer intensives can be found at

Nathaniel Williams and Laura Summer

"I'm glad to participate in such a positive space, amidst responsive people, where good things can touch ground."
Travis Henry, Full Time Student

“The atmosphere here is one of free thinking and free learning that I have never really experienced before. It is a mood of inquisitive exploration and observation. To nurture each others beings and to bring something good into the world pervades life together in the studio.”
Laurel Iselin, Full Time Student

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Report From Laura Summer at Free Columbia

Toward Next Year
Report on Meetings:

A few weeks after the conference Ella and Laila and Nathaniel and Nick and I met to review how things had gone and to begin to look toward next year:

Look back
see the room
vast – filled with darkness
            and light and movement
lots of movement
air and people walking
and walking
stop motion
it is a huge room
and color moving and still
and forms
in the air
on the walls
on the floor
rooms full of questions
            would a conscious artistic movement that lifted experience out of the object, lift humanity to some extent out of the material – widening the experience of reality?

Look forward

So we scheduled a meeting of everyone who was interested to come and talk about next year. We met on Sunday, September 25 at Bright Wing Studio in Hillsdale NY.
Eleven people came. We had read the 5th lecture, (Moral Experience of the Worlds of Colour and Tone), of the cycle by Rudolf Steiner called “Art in the Light of Mystery Wisdom”

First we recreated the content of the lecture together. Ella led us in an experience of the intervals in tone. We sang an interval and tried to identify our experience. We shared the results and then read the description of that interval from the lecture. Sometimes we could recognize similarities. Then we reported on the thoughts that had been discussed at the earlier small meeting. We talked about experience and reality. We talked about light and color and sound. We talked about working together and how valuable that is. We will do something next summer, it looks like it may be concerned with experience, light, movement, color and sound but what that is exactly will arise out of our working together.
Next meeting November 6, 1-4 pm at Bright Wing Studio, 651 Harlemville Rd, Hillsdale NY 12529, all are welcome. Please let Laura know if you are coming  518-672-7302

Pre reading:

Technology and Art , Dornach 28 December 1914
the jelly mold lecture)
Moving Pictures: The Cycle “Metamorphoses of Fear” by Jan Stuten: Sketches for a new Light-Play-Art after an idea of Rudolf Steiner by Wolfgang Veit (Stuttgart: Urachhaus, 1993) – Summaries and Translations

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Upcoming Art Section Conference Information and More Developments

Dear friends of the International Art section,

With warm greetings from Rik ten Cate you will find attached information, you 
probably have waited for.
He and the section council, Christiane Schwarzweller, Michael Howard, Gottfried Caspar and Martin Zweifel, will be pleased if you read the announcement and take part in this process.

With kindest regards
Tanja Hietsch 

Liebe Freunde der Internationalen Sektion für Bildende Künste,
Liebe Interessierte am Fortgang,

mit herzlichen Grüssen von Rik ten Cate darf ich Ihnen das Schreiben im Anhang senden. Auch der Sektionsrat, das sind Christiane Schwarzweller, Michael Howard, Gottfried Caspar, Martin Zweifel, freut sich wenn ihr die Inhalte der Ankündigungen wahrnehmt.
Viele von Euch warten schon sehnlichst auf Informationen.

Mit herzlichen Grüssen
i. A. Tanja Hietsch 
Assistentin von Dr. Seija Zimmermann 
Vorstand am Goetheanum 

Tel.  +41 61 706 43 64 
Fax   +41 61 706 43 14
Link to Rik ten Cate's Letter of September 22, 2011 and Conference Schedule Here

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Report From the Image Arts Conference

This is a report on the conference:

Image Arts Seen from the Perspective of Spiritual Reality

 that took place between the 6th and 9th of August, 2011. This is a distillation of what I experienced and the ideas I have tried to understand.  For what it’s worth, it is  a small window into the time we shared.  It was a beautiful meeting.  Thank you to all who have been, and will be, involved with this event. 

By Andrew Gilligan

In Hudson, New York, beside the river and the trains, sits the Basilica Industria, a vast old factory.  On August fifth, about seventy people came from many parts of the earth to investigate the meaning of Art today.  This is the second year of the conference’s life, put together by members of the Arts Section of the School of Spiritual Science and the community of the Free Columbia art course. The evolution of consciousness in relation to artistic and technological evolution was explored, and the metamorphosis of fear, as well as movement, group collaboration, and new searchings into what it means to be an artist and what the role of art is in these times. The high ceilings of the Basilica and the brick walls played with the echoes of expectation.
The conference, Image Arts Seen from the Perspective of Spiritual Reality, is unique today within the flood of technological innovation, the escapism of mainstream culture, and the dismissal of the reality of the spiritual world. 

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Laura Summer Reports on the Image Art from the Perspective of Spiritual Reality Conference

Dear Participants in 2010 and/or 2011 August Conferences,

Those of you who were here know that we had an inspiring conference on August 5-8, Image Art from the Perspective of Spiritual Reality. Today some of the conference organizers met informally and talked about the conference. As we talked about next year things started to move. We have some ideas and if you are interested in carrying this forward with us, meeting during the year, studying together, please let us know. Some people told us during the conference that they would like to be a part of future preparation, Nic Tuff, Jude Neu and Simeon Amstutz, but there were others who mentioned it.

We would like to have a meeting of people interested and for this purpose I have set up a doodle:
We will choose the date which is best for the most people.

Here are some links for you all:
Rosemary Mcmullen’s blog about the conferences:
The Art Section in North America blog:

Free Columbia’s site with the link to the web album:


Travis Henry <file://localhost/site/threefoldnow>

Johanna Berger 
Involuntary Park

If anyone has email info for :
Chrissy Benson
Martin Stenius
Lauren Morley
Susanna Segnet
Tim Kowalski
Please send to me.

Also send me photos and I will add them to the album

Thank you all so very much for such a great conference, Laura

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Upcoming August Conference: An Open Secret!

Image Arts from the Perspective of Spiritual Reality-
the conference and its context

In August of 2010, in Hudson, NY, a conference took place called –The Search for Humanity in Contemporary Art-.  This conference, which sprouted out of the soil of the art section of the school for spiritual science, consisted in a struggle to bring post modern art and art theory into a new light by seeing it in relationship to spiritual science, and likewise to see anthroposophy in its relationship to post modernity.  This was attempted in many ways.  Of course, only the smallest beginning could be made.  A group of around 50 people, mostly artists, gathered together to try this.  You can get an impression of the activities, exhibits, research and events of last summer by going to

During August 5, 6 and 7 of 2011 another gathering will take place in Columbia County, NY.  It has grown out of last summer’s gathering.  Our question has become more specific, -Image Arts from the Perspective of Spiritual Reality-.  The relationships between painting, photography and Cinema, and the greater effect technological reproduction (particularly of artwork) has had on the world and culture, have been central themes for artists over the last decades.  Striving to achieve clarity in these relationships out of a spiritual understanding of reality, this task is left to those working with spiritual science.  A group of artists is also preparing an exhibit to take place parallel to the conference.  The theme of the exhibit is -The Metamorphosis of Fear–.  As you will see below, this work can be seen as a preparatory step.
As we continue to look forward, a larger gathering in the near future is coming into sight which will take all this work and tie it together.  Rudolf Steiner indicated, in conversations with an artist named Jan Stuten, that a new kind of marionette theater needed to be developed to act against the harmful effects cinema had on the human being.  A century has now passed since they worked together on initial plans and sketches for this, but the project never reached maturity.  This was to be a new art, for the small stage, of moving light. Rudolf Steiner saw that in cinema the highest form that could be achieved would be animation. His idea for a renewal of puppetry would be related to what we know as animation, only guided and performed by human beings.  Rudolf Steiner suggested that the first piece he and Stuten could create for this stage, might be called -The Metamorphosis of Fear-.  This summer we are creating an initial exhibit on the theme of the metamorphosis of fear and exploring the arts of painting, photography and cinema in a conference.  Hopefully during the summer of 2012 or 2013 we can bring all this work together to see if we can take another step.
If you would like to join us this summer, or would like to learn more you can contact either:

Nathaniel Williams:   518 672 4090
Laura Summer:    518 672 7302

Friday, June 3, 2011

The Shamanic Influence in Art by Van James

Throughout history and across the planet, spiritual practices are revealed through the medium of art. Outside the structured doctrines of traditional religious practices stand the artistic-ritualistic expressions of indigenous spirituality or shamanism. From rhythmic drumming and decorative costuming to creative movement and symbolic imagery, the language of art bridges the inner and outer experiences of primal spirituality and mediates the existence between a divine-elemental and a material world. Even today the images of shamanic practices appear in the most unlikely places...

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

A Brief Historical Survey of Anthroposophical Architecture in the USA by David Adams

I will attempt to survey the increasing variety of anthroposophically designed architecture in the United States by focusing primarily on the work of eight designers whose work has resulted in most of these buildings in North America. The design of Fritz Westhoff (1902 Paraguay-1980 New Jersey, USA) marks the beginning of this architecture in America. Beginning about 1928, Westhoff's wooden furniture was full of irregular organic forms, angular planes, and beveled edges. Both his furniture and his three buildings in Spring Valley, New York, reflect Steiner's organic functionalist approach.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Saturday, May 21, 2011

The Aesthetic Logic of the Heart: Forming Heart Thinking by Van James

“The man who lives his life artistically has his brain in his heart.”—Oscar Wilde

Consider three different people’s thoughts on the subject of heart thinking. First; Dr. Paul Pearsall, American author of sixteen best selling self-help books says, “We're a brain culture as distinct from a heart culture. We want to quantify everything. If we can't weigh it and measure it objectively, it simply doesn't exist for us. The Hawaiians have always believed that it is through the heart that we know the truth. For them, the heart is as sentient as the brain. We find this same belief with the Hopi Indians in New Mexico, and with the Chinese; within many cultures the heart chakra is the key to healing."1...

Thursday, May 5, 2011

How Is Anthroposophical Architecture "Organic?" by David Adams

Rudolf Steiner, Boiler House 1913-15, Dornach Switzerland

Today architectural design is passing through a phase of transition and change that offers possibilities that have not existed since the early twentieth century for openness to anthroposophical work in architecture. Organic, irregular, sculptural forms are once again appearing on and as contemporary buildings. How can we bring anthroposophical architecture into the contemporary dialogue?...

This essay was originally published in the Art Section Newsletter No. 17 (Fall/Winter 2001).

Friday, April 29, 2011

Book Reviews: Spirit and Art by Van James

Spirit and Art: Pictures of the Transformation of Consciousness

by Van James Anthroposophic Press/SteinerBooks

300 pages and over 300 illustrations in b/w and color $30.- softcover. ISBN 0-88010-497-X, 2001, 2008

Searching for Forms that Speak: Reflections on Graphic Design by Van James

As a graphic artist I am challenged to develop designs that speak in the visual language of form, and these forms must communicate specific ideas, activities, and organizational principles through their brand.  Much like an architect I am often bound by the interests of a client to certain parameters that require design compromises.  At other times it is possible to have complete artistic freedom in evolving a theme and to be able to explore new directions.  Both possibilities can be equally challenging and rewarding...

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Creating Art From Spiritual Experiences

I am looking forward to exploring this blog further and am very excited about the collaboration format, also learning about what other people are actually experiencing through their studies and explorations in art.

Recently I have been studying Rudolf Steiner's book "How to Know Higher Worlds" where Steiner states that spiritual realties can be perceived in the same way for everyone, just as we all see a chair. Has anyone depicted some of these perceptions through art?  Has anyone clearly 'seen' these things to be able to depict them? Or is it that if it's spiritual perception it does not translate back into the physical medium as it is a different way of 'seeing'?  And if someone has done this, do others agree with that perception? Many questions!

But I am sure you get my gist, I see a lot of 'perceptions' and interpretations out there, including mine, but is this all just groping in the dark compared to Steiner's suggestion that there is an actual 'concrete' spiritual reality that is the same for us all?

Hopefully this blog will show what picture this collaboration paints about such a reality, that indeed we are all probing the same environment and not just feeding our individual fantasies.

~ Shaun Plowman