The first time I heard about the Art Monastery I was on a meditation circle in Seattle. The context in which the project was mentioned, and the word itself, immediately captured my attention. Art, a form of elevated self-expression. Doing things without (immediately) seeking its utility, its productivity, its practical application. And then, monastery. A place of sacredness. Grace. Also silence, and dedication. The Art Monastery. A place for creating art sacredly and wholeheartedly. That’s what all these words evoked me.
Then, when my friends realised I would be in Italy for some time, they told me, to go and meet the Artmonks. And I’ve learned that sometimes when we are told some things, by some friends, there is no place to question. There is no place to ask why. It’s just a matter of doing what one is told. And that is what I did.
Upon on the beautiful mountains of Lazio, Italy, near the fairy village of Labro, there are a group of highly talented artists that have created the Art Monastery. Their purpose: Create their art while living in community under monastic principles of spirituality, rigor and dedication to the community. Their accomplishments? Walking their talk for three years. Their challenges? economic ones, organisational, relational,… Yet somebody said that we should not be judged for what we accomplish, but for what we intend to do. And the Art Monastery, as a work in project, what is most illuminating is their living model.
I am also convinced that another of the measures of our lives are the questions we choose to live. The questions can be the compass of our lives if we dare to embrace the not knowing fully. Here are some of the questions I had the privilege to listen to, when facilitating a dialogue thanks to Betsy McCall, one of its founders, and that now I can share with you with their permission: How to balance the community with the individual development of the Artmonks? How to ensure economic means to be able to devote to ourselves to create art? How can we live out of our art and still be free to create what we want? How do we strike a balance between the Artmonks that stay, and the ones that move to other projects? What social causes do we embrace?…
More than ever, a community such as the Art Monastery is extremely relevant. In these tumultuous times of economic and social downturn, when most of our values are shaken, and everything seems to be fluid, the Art Monastery project is a radical reality, grounded on the courage, dedication and fierce conviction of its founders. A group of people that chose to go beyond their individuality. That are not scared of living their dream. That learned to stand up, in front of difficulties. That are proud of asserting that living in community is in itself art creation. That with their lives, show that another way of living is possible, and with that, they become an immense source of inspiration, of possibility to many of us.
And the best of all is that the Artmonks are not a closed community. They are open. They are permeable. Just as enlightened beings, they influence the world and let the world influence them. To other artists, to people that want to contribute, to social causes,…
Do you want to participate?