Recently, when addressing the leaked Roe v Wade document from the Supreme Court, I shared a teaching and video from lawyer Peter Gabel criticizing “originalism” or the philosophy that dominates the current Supreme Court. I praise Gabel’s work wherein he is criticizing his own profession, the legal profession of today.
All of us need to do this: To critique and to offer remedies for our work worlds. To “reinvent” our work worlds according to values and virtues that we deem most important at this turning point in history.
One person who did that “reinvention of work” in a profound way was Suzi Gablik, an artist and art critic who dared to leave the dominant paradigm of the “modern” art world that flourished in New York City. Suzi died last week and it seems like an appropriate time to thank her for her work and her courage and vision by remembering it so others, especially the young, can learn from her wisdom.
I should also reveal that we were honored that she taught a course at our University of Creation Spirituality. It was an art as meditation course entitled “Creating Altars to the Black Madonna.” I cherish a photo of the work she and her students did and share it here.
In her book, The Reenchantment of Art, Gablik offers a stirring challenge to the art world to let go of the modernist values of alienation and social antipathy and to welcome a new vision that will include a sense of community, an ecological perspective, and a deeper understanding of the mythical and archetypal underpinnings of a spiritual life. Gablik is opting for a creation-centered spiritual renewal of art itself.
She speaks of the previous paradigm of the Enlightenment period and what it has meant to artists: “Individualism, freedom and self-expression are the great modernist buzz words.” The notion that art could serve collective cultural needs rather than a personal quest for self-expression seems almost “presumptuous” in that world view. Yet this assumption lies at the base of a paradigm shift in art, a shift ‘from objects to relationships.’
She tells us that “the way to prepare the ground for a new paradigm is to make changes in one’s own life.” Spirituality is about praxis, she is saying, not just theory. We are to walk our talk and practice what we preach.
To be continued
Adapted from Matthew Fox, The Reinvention of Work, p. 208.
Banner Image: Suzi Gablik, Tropism #12, 1972, oil and photomechanical reproductions on canvas, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of the Sara Roby Foundation, 1985.30.17
Queries for Contemplation
Do you sense a need to turn from an object consciousness to a relationship consciousness? And from individualism to community?
The Reinvention of Work: A New Vision of Livelihood For Our Time
Thomas Aquinas said, “To live well is to work well,” and in this bold call for the revitalization of daily work, Fox shares his vision of a world where our personal and professional lives are celebrated in harmony–a world where the self is not sacrificed for a job but is sanctified by authentic “soul work.”
“Fox approaches the level of poetry in describing the reciprocity that must be present between one’s inner and outer work…[A]n important road map to social change.” ~~ National Catholic Reporter