Sunday, December 18, 2011

In Memoriam

John Anderson
Born:1932, Chicago, Illinois
Died: November 13, 2011, Inverness, California

I was focused in the moment and began to paint without intention, very subtle impulses, from an inner world of my psyche, passed through my hand to become marks on the canvas.
John Anderson, from his book Beginner’s Beginning, 2001

John Anderson was a gifted artist whose work will have a continuing impact in the contemporary art world. His inquiry into the relation between meditative practice and the outward manifestation of internal space is an important inspiration for all of us who are journeying in that creative territory.

The Arts & Consciousness gallery exhibited the work of John Anderson in Through the Light curated by Fariba Bogzaran along with works by Richard Bowman, Lee Mullican and Gordon Onslow Ford. A second exhibition in 2007 featured the paintings of John Anderson and the painting/mixed media works of his wife Mary Mountcastle Eubank. He was an artist associate and advisor of the Lucid Art Foundation at Bishop Pine Preserve where he had lived since 1966 at the invitation of Gordon Onslow Ford.
John’s paintings can be seen at the Weinstein Gallery, 383 Geary Street, San Francisco, CA through January 28, 2012 in the group exhibition Surrealism: New Worlds.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Winter 2012 (Jan. 9-March 24) A&C Course Preview

New Arts & Consciousness Faculty

Welcome to Sas Colby who will be teaching A&C 4675.2 / 5670.2 Group Studio Practice: Art as Improvisation, 1.5 units Saturdays, 10am-5:30pm, March 3 & 10
This course is devoted to discovery and to breaking all the rules. Working with basic materials such as ink and string, mud and cardboard, we’ll gradually build a visual vocabulary by following a set of game-like instructions. We will experiment with drawing, word play, chance operations and outsider techniques, surprising ourselves with the results. We will delve deeply into improvisation and experimentation, learning how some of the best art comes from getting our minds out of the way.

Sas Colby has more than forty years of experience making, exhibiting and teaching art.
Her innovative workshops are combinations of the nontraditional with a solid grounding in art basics. Sas’s mixed media artwork has been exhibited and collected nationally and internationally. Her recent work includes participation in the Al-Mutanabbi Street Coalition artists book exhibition. She currently teaches workshops in Taos, New Mexico; Mallorca, Spain; and at the San Francisco Center for the Book. She has inspired many with her ability to make the creative process come alive. See her work at:

Other Winter classes include:

Stacy Hassen, an artist and educator is also the San Francisco Curator for ARAS (Archive for Research in Archetypal Symbolism. She will be teaching A&C 5300.1 Applied Alchemy: The Feminine in Alchemy, 3 units, Wednesdays, 4:30-7pm. Alchemy is an ancient tradition that belongs to Nature herself. This transformative process informs all creative endeavors and connects one with the intrinsic meaning that connects us all at the core. Alchemy invites an imaginal way of seeing and weaves myth, dreams, symbol and the creative arts into a tapestry that nourishes the soul and calls us to live life in a sacred manner. During this course, the intention is to connect with what is true and real as we explore, through the creative process, the three stages and the four elements of the alchemical process. The journey is initiatory as it explores the healing power of incubation, of symbols and of engaging the opposites to reveal the deeper meaning and the potential of the divine coniunctio.

Seth Eisen will be teaching a course focused on installation and the ways that space and place become resonating areas of transformation. A&C 5670.1 /4670.1 Group Studio Practice: Sight, Site, Cite, 3 units, Thursdays 7-9:30pm. This class will explore location-based installation and the continuum between personal and political, private and public, individual and collective. Classes will include interdisciplinary history and research as well as creative exercises and a final project presented to the public. We will respond creatively to aesthetic, political, and philosophical questions by considering elements of creating environments in community, gallery, installation, theater, Life/Art, streets or classroom. Student research and artwork will synthesize the streams, styles and genres leading towards a solo or group installation, exploring and animating sites in and around JFKU’s Berkeley campus and the Bay Area.

A&C 5255.1 Transformative Arts Seminar: Purpose & Practice, Robbyn Alexander, 3 units, Tuesdays, 7:30-10pm. Students will explore “calling” as it relates to their own creative purpose and practice. Through participation in a “creative group inquiry,” students will learn to forge a collaborative, inter-relational learning environment in which they uncover and safely examine personal, cultural and/or social issues actively influencing their artistic development and the realization of their personal creative potential. Individual art works and their origins, meanings, intention and impact, will be intimately explored and synthesized from multiple perspectives, becoming vehicles of psycho-spiritual growth for both maker and viewer. The course will include experiential studio practices, creative research projects and a day-long transformative ritual.

A&C 5361.1 Beyond the Studio: Community Collaboration B, Sharon Sisikin, 3 units, Wednesdays, 7:30-10pm. This course continues to take a new look at contemporary art issues. We will examine art that incorporates spiritual and ethical renewal as well as social and environmental responsiveness, as methods employed by a growing movement of artists. The heart of this course is the notion that we as artists are natural problem solvers, and with this inherent skill we can work on solutions to many of the important issues of our times, as artists. Part A of this course is theoretical and included creative inquiry, research and project proposal development. Part B of this course will include practical experience in the community with projects in process and completed outside of the classroom, in the public realm. Additionally, projects will be visually documented and exhibited at JFK along with completed project proposals and oral presentations of the projects in process this quarter.

A&C 5312.1 Creativity and Consciousness, 3 units, Karen Sjoholm, Tuesdays, 4:30-7pm
This course will explore the impact that myth, psychology, spirituality, and culture have on the embodiment of the individual creative process. The focus of the class centers on how archetypal energies of creation are mirrored in contemporary artistic practice. Guest lecturers, readings, experiential exercises and studio work will offer a deepening experience of this primal and powerful vitality.

A&C 5800.1: Studio Critique Seminar, 3 units, Jeremy Morgan, Mondays 7:30-10pm
The MFA Studio Critique Seminar allows students an ongoing critical dialogue with their peers under the supervision of an experienced artist. Students present original artwork to the group several times over an eleven week period and receive in-depth responses regarding issues of technical and formal resolution as well as more profound insight into issues of mean¬ing and culture. Students work to develop critical awareness and a sense of community as well as fostering the development of language for the examination of issues critical to a fully func¬tioning artist.

Monday, October 24, 2011

History of Arts & Consciousness, Part Four

"…once you have seen into the mystery a little bit and found a way to express it, then you are on your way." Gordon Onslow Ford

In the early 1990’s the Arts & Consciousness MA program focused on creativity as an embodied practice of consciousness with a deep grounding in spirituality, expressive arts, and inner process.
Under the direction of Michael Grady, who became Chair of the department in 1994, an MFA in Studio Arts was instituted alongside the MA in Transformative Arts. Linking both programs was the foundational premise of creative practice as an integration of personal growth and community/cultural change. The expansion of the program necessitated its move from Orinda, California to a site accessible to the larger Bay Area community.

A retrospective exhibition of the paintings of Gordon Onslow Ford curated by faculty member Fariba Bogzaran in 1996 inaugurated the Arts & Consciousness program and gallery at its new location in Berkeley, California. His gracious accessibility made it possible for students, faculty and the public to connect with the Surrealist movement of which he had been a part and made it possible for his philosophy and art work to influence a contemporary generation of creative practitioners. The Lucid Art Foundation was co-founded with Onslow Ford and Bogzaran to support artists seeking inquiry to the inner worlds. Onslow Ford left his collection and legacy to the Lucid Art Foundation in Inverness, California.

Gordon Onslow Ford  
Since then the gallery has showcased the work of many artists and groups including Alex Grey, WEAD, and Lonnie Graham and has provided Arts & Consciousness students with an exhibition venue that makes visible their internal journey as artists and educators.

Monday, October 3, 2011

History of Arts & Consciousness, Part Three

“Art is cultural communication…. Somehow we all relate to art. We wouldn’t and couldn’t survive without it. The artist’s role has always been to take the impossible road. To explore the unknown and test the outside limits.” Gyongy Laky, founder of Fiberworks

In the 1970’s the Bay Area was alive with cultural innovation. While Charles Miedzinski was conceptualizing the JFK University Consciousness and the Arts program with its emphasis on the connection between art and spirit at UC Berkeley’s MA in Design program Ed Rossbach was redefining fiber craft. His use of materials such as newspaper, plastics, and cardboard and processes such as stapling or gluing moved craft away from function and towards expressive content and meaning.

Ed Rossbach, newspaper, twine, plastic
 He mentored numerous graduates who became important members of the next generation of artist/teachers across the country.One of these students was Gyongy Laky who, in 1973, founded Fiberworks, Center for the Textile Arts, in Berkeley, California. Fiberworks became an internationally recognized experimental school with a gallery and studios and a philosophy of innovation.

The program was incorporated into Lone Mountain College in San Francisco as an MFA in textiles and was picked up by JFK University in the late 1980’s. The MFA and MA in Arts and Consciousness were separate art degrees and although there was talk of bringing them together as one program the MFA was closed in1992.

Graduates from the program include contemporary artists such as Mie Preckler, and Mildred Howard whose Fiberworks MFA thesis projects reside in the JFK University library system on the Berkeley campus along with the thesis projects of the Arts and Consciousness program. Artist Nance O'Banion, who taught at Fiberworks and is currently Chair of the printmaking department at the California College of Art, continues to link the past and present. Her work was shown in a solo exhibition in the Arts & Consciousness gallery in 2001 and she is a guest lecturer in the Creativity and Consciousness course.

I can only imagine the vital conversations that may have taken place between the faculty and students of these two visionary programs that sought to enlarge the field of creative practice to include psychological, spiritual and cultural dimensions. The dialogues that Arts & Consciousness faculty and students engage in today are directly descended from these diverse legacies.

Reference: Fiber Art: Visual Thinking and the Intelligent Handartist. 2003, 248pp. Kenneth Trapp, Regional Oral History Project, Bancroft Library

Saturday, August 27, 2011

History of Arts & Consciousness, Part Two

At the heart of the artistic effort is the concern to expose and express what it means to be human at its most profound level. Frederick Streng (from the Consciousness and the Arts brochure)

In the early 1980’s the Graduate School for the Study of Human Consciousness offered Master degrees in Religion and Consciousness, Parapsychology, Transpersonal Counseling and Consciousness and the Arts.
The program brochure at that time emphasized the “eternal and transpersonal dimensions of art” and that art (including visual, music, dance, literature, drama etc.) was a “dynamic, transformative activity-not only for the artist but also for the viewer, participant and student of art history.”

Jack Weller was the Chair of the Consciousness and the Arts program and oversaw its development. He later became the founding Director of the Expressive Arts Therapy program at California Institute of Integral Studies and is now retired.

LACMA catalog
In later versions of Charles Miedzinski’s curriculum proposal he focused on visionary and sacred art and this became the foundation of the program offerings. Those courses (for example: Sources of Sacred Art and Symbolism) were the ancestors of classes which we teach today, such as the core requirement Art and Symbolic Process. His background as a scholar of the humanities, art history, spirituality and psychology laid the foundation for how he visualized an academic program that connected art and the sacred. These areas also came together when he served as a consultant for the major exhibition The Spiritual in Modern Art: Abstract Painting 1890-1985 at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. The exhibition catalog continues to inspire artists interested in art as a spiritual practice.

In the late 1980’s the program took on the name that we know today - Arts and Consciousness and the brochure description links the transformative capacity of art making to both personal and community transformation - “Art has the power to transform our lives, our culture and our planet.”
(from the Graduate School for the Study of Human Consciousness brochure)

The powerful work of A&C alumni demonstrates how deeply the connections between inner and outer worlds intersect. Whether their creative practice impacts aesthetics, philosophy, healing, health care, education or social issues, A&C alumni reflect what had always been the hope of the founders - that the transformative nature of art was a vital and necessary element of a larger cultural structure.

Next: The creation of the Fiberworks MFA program at JFK University

Friday, August 12, 2011

History of Arts & Consciousness, Part One

Master of Arts Program Consciousness and The Arts Brochure

I have always felt that it is important to be grounded in knowledge of personal and cultural history because it creates a legacy of understanding that, in the words of the poet Rumi, "our lamp was lit by another’s light…".

Over thirty years ago the seeds of our program in Arts & Consciousness (A&C) at John F. Kennedy University were planted by young artists and scholars who believed that the practice of art could lead to deep connections to spiritual, emotional and psychological dimensions. The "path" of consciousness was connected to wholeness, individuation, the sacred, intuition, and to the forms and materials that embodied this exploratory journey.

The articulation of this process continues to be an on-going practice of current JFKU A&C students particularly in their exhibitions and written Masters’ projects.

 Our program began in the late 1970’s as Consciousness and the Arts housed within the Graduate School for the Study of Human Consciousness. The program brochure listed four other degree specializations including: Religion and Consciousness, Parapsychology, Consciousness Studies and Transpersonal Psychology. The Consciousness and the Arts program was visualized as a tree with the roots embedded in the study of consciousness and growing outward into three branches: studio practice, thematic seminars and workshops on creativity and personal process.

A&C faculty member Charles Miedzinski, who died from cancer on July 3, 2004, was a pivotal figure in the development of the program. In 1978 he submitted a curriculum proposal (beautifully hand written) for a "Creativity and Consciousness" program which, as he wrote, were "incipient, half-formed ideas" which would later take shape as the first guideposts on the journey that we continue today.

Charles Miedzinski, June 14, 1978 Letter

Art is a state of grace before whose light we uncoil our secret selves, and within which we receive promise of a greater whole. It asks nothing from us but our best. Theodore Wolff (from the Consciousness and the Arts brochure)

To be continued...

Click on links below to view the letter and MA Program Brochure