What makes a “faith leader”? (part 1) What about an artist in the role?

 Nancy Thayer with painting OurValues The last Guest Writer in our summer series is artist Nancy Thayer, whose paintings hang in collections around the world. In this 5-part series, Nancy examines aspects of her life that fit the emerging model of a “faith leader.” Here is Part 1 of Nancy’s series …

When you think of an artist, do you immediately think of a faith leader? Probably not. Some of the more publicized news articles and repeated stories about artists often have them disfiguring themselves or others, or making visual statements that are meant to shock or offend. As an artist, I can tell you this is not the norm!
    Throughout history artists have been spiritual leaders and healers. The cave paintings of Lascaux, the Navaho sand paintings and the Tibetan mandalas were created by the spiritual leaders of these communities. These ancient practices may not describe the majority of the many forms of contemporary art, but can we see how it could be natural for an artist to be a spiritual leader in a contemporary community?
    I think we can agree that a leader inspires, guides, communicates and expresses a uniqueness that others recognize. A faith leader would do this based on a secure belief in a Supreme Being, a Spiritual Creator, a trust that does not rest on material evidence.
    Much of my work as an artist has been based on spiritual ideas and concepts that have come from a life-long study and practice of my religion. A particular series of paintings came about after my mother passed on. In the solitude of my studio I questioned what I believed about life and death. I knew what I was suppose to believe, what I had been taught to believe, but I didn’t know what I actually believed.
    The paintings that resulted from this deeply personal struggle and the resulting answers have been able to communicate to many others my belief that Life is spiritual and eternal, and that focusing on my highest sense of Truth brings healing to my human experience. Exhibitions of the paintings have inspired many discussions about spiritual issues and they are now in both private and public collections including the Detroit Institute of Arts.
    Have you found inspiration, answers to spiritual questions, or encouragement from either making or experiencing works of art?
    Have you known any artists whom you would consider a faith leader? Do you see yourself as a faith leader through your own creative work?
    Please let us hear from you.


    Please, Add a Comment. Where have you seen this kind of problem arising? What solutions have you found?


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