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Finally, Some Notes From IAM, 3/15/11, Memphis, TN

Highlights Form IAM
notes and imaginings

The mission statement of IAM is:
Gathering artists and creative catalysts to wrestle with the deep questions of art, faith, and humanity in order to inspire the creative community to engage the culture that is and create the world that “ought to be.”

What impressed me was the intentional vocabulary – not necessarily crafted for effect, but deeply and specifically stated from the heart– and being of its founder Mako Fujimura and the people who have come to share the vision, speaking sincerely in essence of being generative, not degenerative.

My thoughts often reflected on the reminder to myself of LOVE – BE GENERATE not a degenerate.

For myself, as a builder of things from ideas and vision, this resonated, for it is wearisome being a critic of culture.

It is restorative of my very soul to contribute communally in building and this notion of building “the world that ‘ought to be”, suggests a rightness I hadn’t considered before.  And this is the transformative essence of real love. Real love as given us by the Author of Love, to nurture one another if only with the contact of eye and greeting of smile, acknowledging the other and blessing them as Image Bearers of God. Even something that small can change a persons day to a positive. And many positives build a more positive community.

After all, everyone watches and observes, is watched and observed. Our actions have meaning and resonance. People know the genuine from the disingenuous. And one filled in essence with the Love of God can be that blessing. We are called to BE Image Bearers, to Love, and to be Salt and Light so that others may see the path and have a chance to choose the better. Called not to judge the world but to overcome the world, we bear His image.

These paragraphs above are of course a blending of teaching and witness from both IAM and the C3 conferences I just attended, folded into  my own stewing thoughts as I have ever so slowly grow the FBA in a hit or miss style of unknowing, more like a baby in his first steps, a lot of falling down, a lot of overexcitement for the littlest of things that resemble walking, but are more akin to standing with the help of a table.

There were so many books in the IAM bookstore I would like to read… those who know me know that won’t happen.


Specifics from IAM that made it from my ears to my notes, and hopefully my memory:

We as artists must rehumanize our culture and regenerate.

The good the true the beautiful: worth aspiring to in our very being.

What is good true and beautiful rehumanizes all of us. (not only individually but collectively)

Inclusiveness: God will use those who are not cognizant of Christ and God will use those outside the church. (see history – Picasso was cited for contributions to art as an example).

Creation Care is linked to Culture Care–in same way we care for endangered species– the creation of a healthier ecosystem of culture will depend on the creation, success, and preservation of cultural estuaries (water flows both ways in an estuary – salt water and fresh water such as the Hudson River where it meets the Atlantic– cultural estuaries are places where cultural ideas can flow in and out, grow, expand. IAM seeks to be a cultural estuary).

Cultural Estuary is a place where we can gain strength.

“Rehumanize Culture” (a term from Jane Eyre)

Over commoditization of art has poisoned our cultural well. QUOTES LEWIS HYDE http://www.lewishyde.com/ (art is a gift) not speaking as anti-capitalists, but art commoditized loses its giftedness.

“But neither money nor machines can create. They shuttle tokens of energy, but they do not transform. A civilization based on them puts people out of touch with their creative powers.”
Lewis Hyde (Alcohol and Poetry: John Berryman and the Booze Talking)

There are three capitals necessary to live in SHALOM – Creative Capital (Creativity), Social Capital (Social Equity), and Financial Capital (Capital):

Creativity, Social Equity, Capital = SHALOM

We as artists are rich in creativity – we are not poor – we are rich and have a certain capital the world needs. We must be empowered to express to the fullest of what we are created to do.


Creativity and Social Equity need financial capital – not much, but they do. This is the formula from self-expression to GENERATIVE expression.

BE generative.

Convey the Spirit of the Lord in what we create (not necessarily make an illustration of “it”).

“Artists who are not all that convincing still seem to be illustrating a theory rather than actually ‘embodying’ one.” ~ Adrienne Dengerink Chaplin

Ultimate reform and ultimate invitation- to speak back prophetically into broken reality.

Reality of estuaries is synergizing.

Cultural Estuary : ideas flow in and out.

Darwinian system does not speak of the mysteries of God’s Creation.

Be Ephemeral
A solid leading voice
simultaneously transparent
like a specter,
a true specter.

Emily Dickenson’s dashes in her poetry were as important as the words in making up her poetry. We are the dashes – we connect the words and the ideas.

Go beyond self expression – Be generous.

Think bigger than yourself. Be a chain reaction that will flow into culture. A collective movement that flows out into the world.

Father Richard Rohr: “On the Edge of the Inside; the Prophetic Position.”
And http://www.inwardoutward.org/author/richard-rohr?page=1

“pregnant” art- is generational.
(M. Fujimora stops when he feels his art is ‘pregnant’ – pregnant art allows for people to co-join with him through the art- entrusting it to the next generation of people who might view the work and respond in a new way).


Calvin B. DeWitt: Infuse Beauty Truth and Goodness in to our world as signposts of what ought to be – seeing beyond the trivial to the transcendent, bringing synthesis to fragment, art, faith, and humanity. Engage the culture that is and create the world that ought to be.

Science/ Ethics/ Praxis : (S: how does world work?/ E: how it should be?/ P: what must we do?).

Genesis 2:15 – Earth-keepers / fruitfulness / preserve the Sabbath

We are to co-serve – AVAD (meaning “serve” – we serve the garden and the garden serves us – we co-serve – con-serve – conserve: “service with”): avad the garden.


Bryan Horvath about IAM

What we may have intuited but not have the language to articulate – IAM gives the language. Empowering artists by not judging their quality but by bringing them into the collaboration, dignity and experience, to express their art, themselves.

Putting the human back into humanity. The tribe. This vision pouring life into life in the trenches. What does it mean to be human? Not necessarily our faith perspective – we desire to engage this culture.

We desire to engage the culture that is to create the culture that ought to be.

Rehumanizing our humanity from its broken way. Light the way by example and by living the way deeply.

Language has been co-opted and new words need to be found and used to defined and offered into the conversation (this is actually the theory behind contemporary art of any generation – not to make new words of existing words, but to restore meaning of truth by using new words and expressions when old language has been appropriated, hijacked, and depleted of soul depth, or just plain lost its context from being made common).

IAM makes a space (and estuary) – on the way to becoming the world that ought to be, how to treat people with love and humanity. Moving from self-expression into “lived experience”. What a movement is is not easily categorized. It is fluid, organic, horizontal (not “top down”), contagious, inspiring.

Tim Keller definition of Movement: http://www.movements.net/2010/08/04/tim-keller-on-movements.html

FAILING must be SPECTACULAR. (not irresponsible). If failing is NOT spectacular, then then you are probably not attempting anything significant. Don’t be afraid to fail. Take bold risks (not irresponsible risks, but think beyond what is to what can be and stretch for it- create it).

‘You’ is not a generative word – the answer is, what are ‘we’? IAM offers the invite to all to join this conversation of Truth Beauty and Goodness – bringing it into this world, into things, into beings.

Re-humanizing & Generative

Mustn’t leave inspired but not engaged. We need to be engaged creating new artifacts, new models, that create the world that ought to be.

Hardest thing is to begin.

IAM gives muscle to will and desire.

Can IAM help me develop a better vocabulary for the FBA?

curatormagazine.com :  Curator is online IAM magazine. http://www.curatormagazine.com/


Ian Cron http://www.iancron.com/ reads excerpts from his book, Jesus, My Father, The CIA, and Me: A Memoir. . . of Sorts and I want to write better.

“nothing worse than bearing the agony of an untold story.” Make it personal not general.

How we are helps others be better people… every gesture we make, every word we speak, every effort we make in the giving. Do I love?

Elei Mazel tells a story of encountering himself as a boy in the concentration camp. There he as the little boy ask himself as the adult in the concentration camp “what have you done with my future?” and Mazel (the adult) answers, “I tried.”


Susanne Langer http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Susanne_Langer :

Philosophy In A New Key: http://www.amazon.com/Philosophy-New-Key-Symbolism-Reason/dp/0674665031

Barnett Newman, 1952, says about Aesthetic Philosophy: It doesn’t affect me as an artist–aesthetics is for the artist as ornithology is for the birds.

Phenomenology : How the world is felt & sensed as knowledge in people’s experience. This is where art and philosophy come together. Fresh perspective “articulates the lived experience”–art does this.

“Art brings truth into being.”

Suggestion to dump the use of these words: “creativity”, “beauty”, “transcendence” from the conversation of the arts as it is not confined to the arts but spreads out into business and nature and recreational drugs…. Suggests instead the idea of “Lift Experience” and “Embodied Perception”.

Articulate lift experiences that may have beauty as a byproduct.

Embodied perception is experience engaging the world from all the senses (not just the eyes).

Why art matters? :

1.     It teaches us to see (nuances/ to be attentive to the world)

2.     Alongside science and religion it gives life meaning

3.     Pre reflective, lift experience as it operates sub consciously

4.     Nurtures capacity for hope

5.     Nurtures empathy and compassion

Question – do we see with our eyes or our full body? (A. Full body – all senses come into play in perception-embodied perception).

Cezanne struggles with how we actually see the world. It could be argued that peripheral vision is more important than focused. Multiple points of view rather than fixed perspective is how we actually “see” – in and out of focus.. “general experience rather than focused look. “ A landscape thinks itself in me and I am its consciousness”.

Reciprocal invitation and response.

Vision has been held as the highest sense associated with the intellect followed by hearing, olfactory, touch… Privilege of the eye being challenged by synesthetic harmony: all senses work together.

Baby first sense to the world is touch, followed by taste, hearing, … lastly eyesight and this is reversed in the dying, eyesight goes first, followed by hearing, taste, touch (stroke and caress are the last connection to the world, the last to go.

Touch is the most sensuous of all senses and most vulnerable to abuse. Touch prevails over sight in lovers embrace…

Tactile perception of hands is highly perceptive of substances with multi-modal nameless qualities.

We use all our senses to determine experience and memory.

Limiting all experience to only visual (or only two senses) is limiting (voyeuristic and objectifying)

Video/virtual world/ pornography/ digitizing experience (camera/movie recording) = detachment- too busy capturing photos for social network sites rather than living in the experience: leave our imagination and dreams homeless. Too strong visual focus leaves us disconnected from humanity.

Are we spiritual or sentient beings–spiritual, non-material, disembodied?

Kandinsky’s concerning the Spiritual in Art  http://www.mnstate.edu/gracyk/courses/phil%20of%20art/kandinskytext2.htm (published 100 years ago), influenced by Madam Blavatsky and Theosophy. http://www.blavatsky.net/

Rooted in Greek : Plato/ Neo-Platonic

Division between material and spirit. Dichotomy.

Overcome the material – the body disturbs ascension to spirit.

(misguided theories) Kandinsky thought to leave all representation to move more into intellect – and Piet Mondrian: painting remain hostile to material – spiritual = non-representational. Visual appearance superficial.

Christian belief has been against the body and more Plato than Paul – materiality VS. materialism (OK) – not OK: greed and love of dead reductionist of all to material only.

But God says ALL is good. Concrete material and spiritual life.

Surprised by Hope (by N.T. Wright) http://www.amazon.com/Surprised-Hope-Rethinking-Resurrection-Mission/dp/0061551821

Conscription of art:

Lift Experience / Embodied Perception / Earth Spirituality

Intersensory experience


Ai Weiwei’s Sunflower Seeds at Tate Modern


Truner Prize winner Susan Philipsz, “Lowlands”: http://www.guardian.co.uk/artanddesign/video/2010/dec/07/turner-prize-2010-susan-philipsz-student-protests


Dana Gioia http://www.danagioia.net/

The goal as a creator… not to envy someone else’s’ life but to find your own life. When artists create for other artists (that rarified and elite air), art loses its ability – it ceases to cross generation, cross gender, and cross geography…

People do not like the state of art now, where the ‘high’ contemporary is leading.

What is the human need for art? (no one asks this question) We need arts in childhood to awaken to possibilities of existence we otherwise have no access to: gives us the skills to navigate life–producing an inner life.

Suicidal people feel their story has come to a dead-end. The reason why we need good literature is that IT helps prepare our lives and guide our lives–awakening the fullness of our human potential and FEED our imagination.

There is a distinction between Art and Entertainment.
Main difference, “Entertainment gives us predictable pleasure.”

Entertainments are commodifiabe products that seem new (some entertainments transcend but few, and some art is made into a commodity via branding)

Art gives you pleasure, pleasure leads us in and offers the possibility of transformation or reminds us that we are something essential that we have forgotten – gives us something rather than satisfying a craving.

In this society, one needs to be counter cultural to lead a good life.

Now, commodifiable entertainment saturates us – it drowns out all other voices including the voice inside our heads – including that small still voice – anesthetizes us each and as a group – it acts as an anesthetic: Now in our culture it is important to be comfortable, lulled to sleep.

Reading is hard and requires sustained attention-but if you can read, it will transform one’s goals.

Take religion and art out of culture and people will find something cheaper.

We are in an age of consumptive materialism–if you eat six meals a day, we don’t taste any of them. Our culture doesn’t tell us what good it is for our souls, we are merely told to acquire and pile it on.

Shed away ALL things that are unessential.

Believe that we can create the society in which we want to live.

History of culture are reinvented by outsiders–spiritual and human endeavors of the arts – NOT a profession, but a CALLING.

We cannot be charitable to everyone – stop being so nice:  an age is rendered by its BEST artists (stated by former head of the NEA, Dana Gioia). Our strength (as Christians) is that we believe in a world beyond simultaneous with the material world.

People are hungering for the supernatural and because they are not being satisfied in high culture, they go to low culture to be gratified.

Take all your gifts for art making and use them WELL – as well as possible – not hard work… it is a LOVE affair, and self-transcendence is part of this.

When Religion and culture are split apart…?? City of Augustine… ?

Call of individual is to fulfill their destiny–do that and it brings you to others like yourself. Be ruthless with your work and be charitable with the people.

“Traveller, there is no road. You just have to keep walking” What a gift it is to be alive – don’t piss it away! ( Dana Gioia).


NEW performers and links to new THINKERS

River James http://www.riverjamesmusic.com/ —  http://www.riverjamesmusic.com/music.html (Al Stewart meets Sigor Ros)

Kevin Gosa http://about.me/kevingosa & http://fretfulporcupine.com/

Zach Williams http://www.zachwilliams.com/

Dan Gioia http://www.danagioia.net/
and http://www.businessweek.com/bwdaily/dnflash/content/nov2006/db20061110_443169.htm

Li Young Lee http://www.poetryfoundation.org/bio/li-young-lee

Ian Morgan Cron http://www.iancron.com/

Nigel Goodwin  http://www.inastillsmallvoice.com/Index.html

Adrienne Dengerink Chaplin  http://www.cardus.ca/comment/article/776/

Susanne Langer http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Susanne_Langer

Erwin Raphael McManus http://erwinmcmanus.com/theartist/

Roberta Green Ahmanson – http://fieldstead.com/who-we-are.html http://fieldstead.com/default.html

Father Richard Rohr: “On the Edge of the Inside; the Prophetic Position.”
http://www.malespirituality.org/prophetic_position.htm And http://www.inwardoutward.org/author/richard-rohr?page=1

LEWIS HYDE http://www.lewishyde.com/

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