Enlightenment Through Art in the Dark

How would you feel watching someone that did not know you were watching them? Really creepy right? Maybe invasive, insensitive, intrigued or very interested? These are the exact feelings I had while observing Mark Dixon’s Advanced Sculpture class participate in the event Art In the Dark this past Saturday.

Students blindfolded themselves for 8 hours while making sculpture. A week prior they prepared a general idea for what they would be creating. So while they had a sense for what they would be making, it was tough to know how the experience would effect them. Students asked to not be filmed and wanted this event to be private to create a safe, secure, concentrated space.

At this point I’m feeling really weird for 2 reasons: a) I was a voyeur and b) it seems terrifying to be blindfolded for this long. Oh, and just for clarity I was invited to observe this event, but that still doesn’t change how uncomfortable I felt the entire time. I had trouble even opening the door.

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Raina Martens and Lily Collins sharing their life experiences over a live webcast

For those of us still in the dark or perhaps wondering why an artist would do this exactly, Mark Dixon explains that it’s “to build the primary tool for art making, which is the artist. Think of it as building the soil and trusting that the fruit will be healthy. Usually when people think about what it means to be an artist their first thoughts are mostly about the technical or visual aspects, such as welding, mold making, or blending colors. Art in the Dark forces the artist to produce art that comes from within themselves by cutting out that visual aspect.”

Essentially this was an immersion experience where artists looked to their inner guidance to create art. They looked solely to the inward, sans influence from visual/external forces. Imagine how provoking, revolutionary and even spiritual this process must have been for the artists. It literally shed light on the artists during this experience.

In Quakerism the Inner Light is where Spirit and self coexist in each person. It is the individual’s responsibility to find it and to be in constant conversation with it. The Inner Light is the guiding force within that questions, tests, challenges and ultimately helps form the people that we become on our life journey, or in this case, the direction of these Advanced Sculpture artists.

Alexandria Smith, ’15, describes her experience and a true challenge in which she experienced vulnerability, fear, exhaust and then finally a light that led her to “immense inspiration”. She worked on what currently looks like a life-size cats cradle; it is made of grey string that runs back and forth between the stairwell and the banister outside of the sculpture studio creating altered perspectives, plans and angles.

What I personally like so much about this sculpture is that it reminds me of a maze, representative of the confusing journey that these artists endured to find their inner most artist. The art that was created is physical evidence of what the artists experienced during their journey through Art in the Dark, but what happened within them we will never completely know.

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1 response to Enlightenment Through Art in the Dark

  1. Julie Dameron says:

    I was fascinated by the Art in the Dark Experience. The Art Department at Guilford College has to be one of the best anywhere for understanding oneself and helping each student find his/her own inner spirit that can be expressed creatively.

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