spirit worlds

The difference is not in what people suffer but in the way they suffer...

--St. Augustine, The City of God (426 A.D.)

If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is, infinite.

--William Blake (early 19th c.)

The spiritual dimensions of life are expressed in many ways.

Since the dawn of history, humankind has drawn comfort and enlightenment from spiritual practices of all kinds. Some of us gain access to the spiritual through the codifed traditions of "organized religion" or other formalized rituals. Others practice their beliefs in uniquely personal ways. Whatever the path, a relationship to "spirit worlds"--either as a matter of faith or as an academic pursuit--can serve to deepen one's empathy for fellow humans and broaden one's appreciation for the whole of creation.

Artists have always created significant and expressive vehicles for focusing and giving expression to human spiritual beliefs. The history of art is filled with images that convey the "varieties of religious experience" as well as the personal beliefs of individuals. Deeply held spiritual beliefs will always find expression in the work of artists whose openness and faith leads them to an acknowledgement of powers beyond themselves.

Inquiry Questions

1) How do you define "spirit worlds" for yourself? Have you had what you would regard as a spiritual or metaphysical experience?

3) How have artists represented or utilized spirit worlds in the past?

3) How have artists interacted with other disciplines to give expression to the spiritual or metaphysical?

4) What would be some ways of exloring the theme of the spirit worlds in your own artwork?


1. Monument to a Belief System (3D Studio Fundamentals, UNIT V: Scale and Context)

Artists/Designers/Cultural References

Borobudor (Javanese Buddhist Temple), Michelangelo (Sistine Chapel ceiling), Raphael, Lascaux Cave paintings, Australian Aboriginal paintings, Hopi Kachina Dolls, Navajo Sand Painting, Ryonji Garden (Japanese Zen Garden), Shiva (Hindu God),


Buber, Martin (1937). I and Thou.

Campbell, Joseph. The Hero with a Thousand Faces.

Huxley, Aldous (1954). The Doors of Perception.

Huxley, Aldous (----). The Perennial Philosophy.

James, William (1902). The Varieties of Religious Experience.

Johnson, Ken (2005). "The Modernist vs. The Mystics," The New York Times, April 12, 2005.

Pearce, Joseph Chilton. (1971). The Crack in the Cosmic Egg.

Quinn, Daniel (1992). Ishmael.

St. Augustine (426). City of God.

Suzuki, D.T. (----). Zen Buddhism.