“How Art Evolves Consciousness” based on Ken Wilber’s Integral Theory

Imagine a vivid dream that leaves you grasping for a tangible art-making surface to portray mythical, enigmatic symbology. Contained in the vision is an enduring ingenuity that serves as an intrinsic guide for future generations. How could such a fervent vision be shared with fellow enthusiasts?

 

Body, Mind, Spirit by Alex Grey

This is the plight of visionary artists Alex and Allyson Grey. Their passion for translating barely conceivable experiences through their art is a mission they thrive to pursue. It’s a path most wouldn’t give a second thought, yet they travel across the nation, even stopping at the Integral Center in Boulder, CO, to talk with proponents of art culture under the title “How Art Evolves Consciousness” (originally the title of Alex’s TED talk).

Most speakers reputable enough to draw national attention come prepared with a set agenda, giving little attention to gestures of connection. However, the Grey’s show homage to their community by allowing the freedom of interaction, storytelling and humility.

“A quest to rise from primate consciousness to integral conscious was imbedded in this scene of the primal garden,” Alex explains. “The myth of the Garden of Eden and Tree of Knowledge points to humanity’s insatiable desire for greater awareness and truth, even if we have to disobey some rules to get at the facts. ‘The Fall of Man’ is actually, as Ken Wilber describes in his book, Up from Eden, an evolutionary ascent of our minds from unconscious instincts embedded in Nature (the Garden) toward higher consciousness.”

We all go through phases of consciousness as we grow from childhood to adulthood. For the most part, the result of art is an externalization of our internal realizations. “There is an arc of the development of human consciousness etched into the arts and therefore cultural evolution,” Alex claims.

Societal integration proves to be the biggest challenge for emerging artists looking to the community for support through their career. Woven into the Grey’s humanness is an intrinsic motivation to encourage creativity in others. Through their talk, “How Art Evolves Consciousness”, they share a unique vision with the world by breaking down the process an artist must take to expand their own pursuits. Ultimately, anyone could become a revolutionary by transcending their personal psychodrama and serving the world with inspirational actions.

The Grey’s propose that a system comprised of four quadrants, the theory associated with philosopher Ken Wilber, can lift an artist from personal reflection to cultural diffusion and influence. Beginning with the inner world of the individual, or Quadrant One, a vision comes alive in his or her mind. In Quadrant Two, an artifact influenced by that vision makes its way out of metaphysical space and into our physical realm. Once the idea is tangible for others to see and touch, the artist becomes responsible for disseminating their work, Quadrant Three. “An influential art critic writes a review in the Times, or it becomes a popular blog post,” Allyson explains. “A collector buys your work and talks about it, exhibiting it in their home or workplace. They share the art with friends and family. When others press the “Like” button and offer a comment, they are responding in Quadrant Four.”

 

The fractal and symbol oriented art of Allyson Grey.

“Imagine that one drop of a new vision, like a tincture, can change the color of clear liquid to a new tint,” Alex asserts. “An Integral worldview reframes the context in which you hold reality. Because of that world view, infinite new visions can emerge from that reality, influencing an ongoing spiral of evolutionary consciousness.”

This is why artists tend to navigate the magnitude of possibility with fellow practitioners. Their ideas are readily accepted or graciously redirected to a more applicable approach.

It so happens that the Grey’s are in the process of building a space for such practice. The idea was transmuted from Alex into a nexus for gathering and coordinating an integral plan that will strengthen the community. Chapel of Sacred Mirrors (CoSM), located 65 miles from Manhattan, is a sanctuary for artists and another step in their vision to further the arts.

 

Alex and Allyson live painting ‘Star Dancers’

Art in all forms constitutes a vast and diverse field of positive influence, a beneficial factor to be included in a healthy life. Alex and Allyson Grey nourish the idea that art can open the window of new possibilities while providing a place to perpetuate artistic expression. Most effectively, creativity furthers this cycle by allowing people to explore their own talents and communicate through their chosen mediums.

Article by Scott Rowland