I am delighted to feature Claudia Campbell in this week's Sacred Artist Interview. As with many of the artists I know, I first encountered her work through my role as art editor for Presence journal. We later had the pleasure of connecting by phone and I enjoyed hearing about Claudia's own connections as both a spiritual director and an artist.
I am grateful to Claudia for taking time to share of her wisdom and insight into the creative process and spiritual journey with all of my wonderful readers:
Are you rooted in a particular faith tradition?
I am rooted in the Roman Catholic tradition and am grateful for the rich deposit that I received from my early spiritual formation. The sense of awe, mystery, and presence were developed during my childhood and continue to influence my spirituality.
What is your primary art medium?
My primary art medium is paint and collage. I particularly enjoy using water-based mediums like acrylic since I prefer to work spontaneously. Collage adds dimension and texture to the work and can lead to discovery. I find that I am motivated by composition, color and line and the relationship of these elements.
How do you experience the connection between spirituality and creativity?
As I have engaged in the process of art making, I have found that it has been a profoundly spiritual endeavor. I have become aware of striking parallels to my faith journey as I have submitted myself to the creative process. Risk, vulnerability, and trust are necessary to creativity and to faith formation.
What role does spiritual practice have in your art-making?
My spiritual practice of prayer and meditation informs my art making and simultaneously the art making informs my prayer. Both activities require loving attention and presence. A sacred dialogue exists within the two experiences. There are times of struggle, surrender, peace, chaos, humiliation, fear and transformation in prayer and in creating. I find that I am faced with the truth of myself through the art making process. Making art forces me to confront my fear and risk saying something in my own voice.
What sparked your spiritual journey?
My spiritual journey has been marked by an awareness of longing and desire for union. Brokenness and pain have influenced my path and perhaps caused me to seek God more fervently. I know what it is to be lost and what it is to be found and I have been blessed by grace through faith to experience belonging and union.
Do you have a particular process you use when entering into your creative work?
Before entering into my creative work, I try to prepare myself by becoming still and listening. I try to center myself and become aware of being in the present moment with all of myself. My desire is to be authentic as I engage in the creative process no matter how I am feeling. Embracing where I am without judgement is necessary to enhance the flow of creativity with honesty and integrity.
How does your art-making shape your image of God?
The incomprehensible and overwhelming beauty of creation and its patterns give insight into the nature of God as creator, redeemer, and sustainer. I see in nature a picture of perfect surrender which I believe is the highest form of wisdom. Surrender and receptivity are at the heart of the art-making process. They also reveal the beautiful mystery of the Trinitarian relationship.
I am grateful for the sacred privilege and joy of engaging with the Holy and Life-giving
Spirit through art making.
Art from Top to Bottom: Journey, Prayer, Surrender, Ten Commandments, Sacred Vessel, Crucifixion
A warm and enthusiastic thank you to Claudia for sharing of her journey here. This week what is speaking to me most profoundly are her honest words about the times of "struggle, surrender, peace, chaos, humiliation, fear and transformation in prayer and in creating. I find that I am faced with the truth of myself through the art making process. Making art forces me to confront my fear and risk saying something in my own voice." Art does indeed confront us with our deepest fears and invite us to trust that we have something worthwhile to say to the world, an act of faith in itself.
See more of her work by visiting her website.
-Christine Valters Paintner @ Abbey of the Arts
** Make sure to visit this week's Poetry Party **