Sacred Artist Interview: Bill Hughlett

I first met Bill Hughlett because of my friendship with his wife Kayce, aka the delightful lucy.  I fell in love with his photography before I ever met him and then have had the chance to sit at dinner on a few occasions now and get to know him a bit better.  He is a really engaging person who speaks passionately about both his spiritual journey and his creative expression.  I am excited to share his insights into the connection between the two, so on to Bill’s responses:

A brief introduction of yourself — faith tradition (if you have one), spiritual practice, art medium

I was born in the Belgian Congo – my parents and grandparents were missionaries for the Methodist church so from the beginning my faith tradition was based on Christian evangelism. In recent years my spiritual practice has undergone a shift and is much more about God’s kingdom right here, right now and less about trying to get into heaven or stay out of hell! Photography of ordinary, every day beauty – which is actually extraordinary – and to a lesser degree music, are the art forms I use to express what I see and feel.

How do you experience the connection between spirituality and creativity?

Stepping outside of the rigid, fundamentalist frame I’d been in for most of my life had an explosive effect on my creativity. A mind and spirit that are free to question and explore without the fear of backing into some theological propeller just have infinitely more raw material to work with in the creative context.

What role does spiritual practice have in your art making? (and vice versa)

For me art-making itself becomes the spiritual practice. Capturing a moment on “film” that holds something sacred in it, or listening to or playing a beautiful melody are more transcendent than any religious experience I can remember. It was a great day when I realized that sharing my art with people was as important an act of evangelism as standing on a street corner witnessing to strangers or going into the heart of darkness somewhere to share the gospel!

What sparked your current spiritual journey? What sparked your artistic journey?

We were in crisis with our teenage son about five years ago and it forced me to stand back and look at myself and put most of what was in my spiritual foundation through the fire, so to speak. It was astonishing if not terrifying how little of it survived. As far as sparking my artistic journey, the creativity was always there, and occasionally there would be sightings, but it took getting blasted out of my religious fortress to really get things moving.

Do you have a particular process you use when entering into your creative work?

It’s not a process I can really define except to say I know when it’s happening. Often things catch my eye in the everyday collage of people, places and things – it’s literally a physical sensation that tells me there is something worth paying attention to. If I take the time to “work” these moments, something beautiful almost always emerges.

What are your favorite resources to spark your creativity? (books, music, etc.)

I’m fortunate to have some nice tools to work with as far as equipment, and the technical knowledge to use them. I’m also inspired and influenced by the work of other photographers – Bryan Peterson, John Shaw and Phil Borges are three that have had a big impact on my work.

Thank you so much to Bill for taking the time to share some of these insights into his own creative process and spiritual journey.  I especially love the image of the explosion of creativity that comes from being in an environment of questioning and searching and art as its own act of evangelism.  Make sure to visit Bill’s website to see more of his stunning images.  His prints are available for sale and he also makes gorgeous notecards.

Photos from top to bottom:

kino nueve | sonora, mexico

salmon bay | seattle, washington | 1st place 2007 CAC juried art show

e. smith | pembroke parish, bermuda

highline highschool | burien, washington | 3rd place 2006 CAC juried art show


** Visit this week’s Poetry Party! Submit your own before the end of the day on Friday to be entered into a drawing to win a prize. **

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