SPOTLIGHT ON "THE ARTIST'S WAY"
GUEST BLOGGER SISTER ROSEMARIE GRECO, DW REFLECTS
Maybe seven or eight people will come.
When Alan Colavecchio and Mary Lou Tanner approached us at Wisdom House in 1992, this was their concern. Would Wisdom House be willing to offer The Artist’s Way program for seven or eight people?
Julia Cameron’s book, The Artist’s Way was published in 1992. Alan and Mary Lou instinctively knew that this book and Julia’s process would appeal to and benefit artists and creatives of all types. They offered the program for thirteen weeks with 40 participants starting in January 1993. Interest grew rapidly and requests started for Julia to come to Wisdom House.
Sister Jo-Ann Iannotti, OP and I were always open to new ideas and risks. We contacted Julia and her schedule permitted her to come to Litchfield, CT in mid-January 1994. The risk: Snow in CT in January. Could anyone get to Wisdom House if it snowed?
The day came for the weekend with Julia Cameron, along with a major snowstorm. Julia came and 120 people registered. The artist community quickly took shape. One artist from Vermont said, when asked why she came so far for this retreat, “I work alone as an artist and I needed to be with other artists”.
Julia energized and affirmed these artists. The subtitle of her book is “A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity” and she walked with and guided everyone along this path. Her insistence on writing “Morning Pages” was an essential to taking first and continuing steps in being creative and to becoming unblocked. The Artist’s Way links creativity to spirituality and to personal empowerment. This is done through “effective exercises that spur imagination and capture new ideas” (from book jacket). Along with exercises and discussions, on Saturday night, everyone celebrated with a jam session.
During free time, some participants went cross-country skiing where the labyrinth is now located.
Over the next eight years, over 400 artists participated in The Artist’s Way program at Wisdom House. Several made significant life changes and grew in self-confidence, appreciating and valuing themselves as artists and persons.
Due to The Artist’s Way, Sister Jo-Ann initiated the presence of a permanent art gallery in the center because we were convinced of the inherent connection between art and spirituality. The Marie Louise Trichet Gallery was the first retreat center gallery in the area. It was dedicated in 1994 with the opening exhibit consisting of works from artists who participated in The Artist’s Way.
Now, 25 years later, thousands of people have used her first book and over 30 that followed. You can find Julia Cameron giving workshops around the world and at www.JuliaCameronLive.com . The February 2, 2019 issue of the New York Times featured her; several videos are available on Wisdom House’s YouTube channel.
Wisdom House is ever grateful to Alan, Mary Lou and Julia for their support and dedication to the artist community.
Some of Julia’s words continue to resonate with many: “Creativity requires faith. Faith requires that we relinquish control.” “It’s important always to have a sense of wonder.”
About The Artist’s Way, Julia says, “The book is for spiritual seekers in all walks of life.”
I close with a quote about the Divine Artist from the Hebrew Scriptures of the Bible: “Wisdom is the Artisan of all” (Book of Wisdom 7, 22).