ART MONASTERY PROJECT
Artist Collective based in Vermont / New York - USA
The Art Monastery Project is an American non-profit arts organization dedicated to cultivating personal awakening and cultural transformation through art, community, and contemplation. As a “social sculpture,” the Art Monastery considers communities and collaborations themselves as creative media and values the creative process and experience of all impacted when developing a wide range of performance and visual art.
The pilot site and first major program of the Project was Art Monastery Italia. AM Italia intended to transform a historic Italian monastery into an international arts production center. As an extended experiment in monastic community, a long-term team of Artmonks operated AM Italia and hosted other artists, volunteers, and interns for short periods of time. The community typically peaked in the summertime at 15 to 25 members, but throughout the year individuals (whether permanent members or visiting members passing through) became part of the community that was dedicated to investigating monasticism, co-creating art projects, sharing experimental spiritual practices, building artistic skills and technique, living together intentionally, and taking part in daily living chores and activities. From 2010-2012, Art Monastery Italia was located in the monastery San Antonio in the medieval hill town of Labro, 70 minutes north east of Rome. In 2013, the project was hosted in Puglia, Italy in collaboration with the Accademia del Rinascimento Mediterraneo. 2014 launched a new Art Monastery Italie, in Caramaniico, Abruzzo.
Creative expression and the experience of inspired art provides meaning to human existence. The habitat for this fruitful exchange is disappearing as cultural budgets suffer slashes worldwide, capital interests grow ever more powerful, and the life model of the professional artist becomes increasingly difficult. Art will only survive with new models that demonstrate how indispensable art is to people and communities (ensuring and inspiring demand) and address the practical needs of artists (fostering supply even with reduced demand).
Spirituality and ritual are part of the most innate aspects of the human experience and have inspired charity and ethical action for millennia. But as we see in the news and our lives, destructive actions that deny our fundamental interconnectedness are committed daily in the name of religion and values. Thus, Artmonks strive for a spirituality and ritual life that flows from creative expression and a practice of contemplation to awakening compassion for our fellow beings.
Sustainable, ecological, communal living is an inherent aspect of both Medieval monasteries and our contemporary project. Living in community not only diminishes ecological impact, but provides a daily practice of facing personal patterns and learning to cooperate with other individuals. We acknowledge that total commitment to these ideas requires concrete action. Compassion and creativity enable us to envision the world we wish to co-create. Without action, this transformation in the self and the world dissipates. Action, can be small or great, but we always have the power to do something.