Alex Grey is a notable artist of our time with whom it has been my privilege to work on several occasions.
He gave the teaching at one of our Cosmic Masses at Historic Sweets Ballroom in downtown Oakland when the theme for the Mass was “Creativity.” Putting a chair and easel on the altar platform, he drew a painting while speaking about the juice of the creative process.
It was, needless to say, magical to see a painting from Alex Grey come alive on the spot in the middle of Mass. A homily to remember.
Alex and I taught a course together on “Creativity” at the University of Creation Spirituality in Oakland and we also dialoged on the meaning of the Sacred in his paintings in a theater in NYC. I happily visited his studio there on several occasions, always bringing friends or students in tow.
Now he has moved his studio to a barn in upstate New York and I am thinking of him since we are meditating on Grace this New Year—and so much Grace comes our way from art and creativity. As Hildegard of Bingen put it, “there is wisdom in all creative works.”
Alex offers us a new painting on Greening Power or Viriditas, in which he brings alive this important concept named by Hildegard in the 12th century.
Hands play an important role in the piece and our hands contribute so much to all manner of work that we humans engage in.
Alex paints eyes within each hand. Hildegard often paints pictures of beings with multiple eyes–this is one way that she speaks of Divinity, the “all-seeing One,” the eye as the “window to the soul.” Meister Eckhart instructs us that “the eye with which I see God is the same eye with which God sees me.”
Thank you for still another inspiring painting, Alex, that celebrates our human capacity to bestow Grace on one another via our greening power and work and creativity! Surely, Hildegard is pleased.
To be continued.
* Alex Grey speaking on “The Green Hand”: https://www.instagram.com/reel/Cz4W7R9vpGB/
See Matthew Fox, Illuminations of Hildegard of Bingen.
And Fox, Hildegard of Bingen, a Saint For Our Times.
And Fox, Creativity: Where the Divine and the Human Meet.
Banner Image: “The Green Hand,” a painting by Alex Grey in homage to Hildegard’s concept of Viriditas. Published with permission.
Queries for Contemplation
What do you derive from this most recent painting on Viriditas and Greening Power from Alex Grey? How does it feed a theme of a New Year of Grace?
Illuminations of Hildegard of Bingen
An introduction to the life and work of Hildegard of Bingen, Illuminations reveals the life and teachings of one of the greatest female artists and intellectuals of the Western Mystical Tradition. At the age of 42, she began to have visions; these were captured as 36 illuminations–24 of which are recorded in this book along with her commentaries on them.
“If one person deserves credit for the great Hildegard renaissance in our time, it is Matthew Fox.” – Dr Mary Ford-Grabowsky, author of Sacred Voices.
Hildegard of Bingen, A Saint for Our Times: Unleashing Her Power in the 21st Century
Matthew Fox writes in Hildegard of Bingen about this amazing woman and what we can learn from her.
In an era when women were marginalized, Hildegard was an outspoken, controversial figure. Yet so visionary was her insight that she was sought out by kings, popes, abbots, and bishops for advice.
“This book gives strong, sterling, and unvarnished evidence that everything – everything – we ourselves become will affect what women after us may also become….This is a truly marvelous, useful, profound, and creative book.” ~~ Andrew Harvey, author of The Hope: A Guide to Sacred Activism.
Creativity: Where the Divine and Human Meet
Because creativity is the key to both our genius and beauty as a species but also to our capacity for evil, we need to teach creativity and to teach ways of steering this God-like power in directions that promote love of life (biophilia) and not love of death (necrophilia). Pushing well beyond the bounds of conventional Christian doctrine, Fox’s focus on creativity attempts nothing less than to shape a new ethic.
“Matt Fox is a pilgrim who seeks a path into the church of tomorrow. Countless numbers will be happy to follow his lead.” –Bishop John Shelby Spong, author, Rescuing the Bible from Fundamentalism, Living in Sin