What Is Integral Art? Part 2: The “I” of the Beholder
with Ken Wilber and Elle Nicolai

Why is art so important? As Ken discusses in this clip, art and creativity represent an intrinsic dimension of human consciousness itself, and developing our aesthetic sensibilities is just as crucial as our moral maturity or expanding our scientific knowledge of the world. As such, artists play a very special role in our lives as interpreters of this present moment, preservers of our shared past, and arbiters of tomorrow’s unfolding. Historically it has often been the artists who have pushed our cultural edge forward the most profoundly, simply because they have a certain freedom of experimentation that most people in other vocations simply do not have.  As the leading edge of the world’s development is now Integral, we can begin to look to artists whose consciousness is integrally informed to offer us glimpses of a more sane and inclusive future, and help unearth the radical potentials that await us there….


A Slice of Silence
by Nathan Wirth

Avante garde—synonymous with “vanguard”—represents people at the cutting edge of any emergent cultural thought or expression. These individuals tend to function several steps ahead of the rest of the world, scouting the newly emerging territories of tomorrow and forging pathways toward the artistic, cultural, and intellectual possibilities that dwell there.

Integral Life is pleased to present a monthly showcase of truly avant garde artists—the most current embodiment of the Kosmic impulse to constantly go beyond what went before, adding brilliance and revelation to the dying forms of the previous moment.

The Extraordinary Commonplace

by Bo Bartlett

As you may already know, art, creativity, and aesthetics have always been an essential part of an integrally-lived life. In fact, the very existence of a genuinely transformative Integral Art scene is one of the greatest indicators that we are indeed part of a bonafide cultural movement, as we have often looked to our greatest artists to scout out the unfamiliar territory ahead of us—blazing new paths through the wilderness of consciousness, while bringing the sounds and visions of a newly discovered world back for the rest of us.

This month we are proud to feature the art of Bo Bartlett, in a stunning collection of paintings that depict a seamless integration of realism and surrealism, which Michael Schwartz describes as “visible familiarity and everydayness; integrated with strange and mysterious elusiveness: elements of an uncanny and wondrous art…” As you take in the visual splendor of Bo’s art, be sure to check out Michael’s accompanying commentary The Mysterious Abundance of the Everyday.

One of the extraordinary things about these Integral Life Art Galleries is that you can choose your own level of engagement, and can go as deeply into them as you want to go. Ken Wilber often talks about the three modes of knowing symbolized by the “eye of flesh,” the “eye of mind,” and the “eye of spirit”:

  • You can have a simple sensory experience of the shapes, colors, and composition of the actual artwork, just noticing the beauty and feeling how it lands in your body.
  • You can also use the intellectual treatments provided by Michael Schwartz to deepen your overall aesthetic experience, learning some of the most important perspectives you can bring to any work of art.
  • And you can use the magnificent beauty these artists offer as a spiritual practice, a doorway to your own timeless self, immersed in effortless appreciation of everything in this universe—as sometimes it takes something exceptionally beautiful for us to see that everything is beautiful, exactly as it is.

All three of these experiences are available to you, and we invite you to take in as much as you possibly can!

Art, Consciousness, and God: The “I” of Beauty

with Ken Wilber and Elle Nicolai

Do you know what Integral Art is? Would you be able to recognize it if you saw it? Does a piece of art need to have some intrinsic spiritual component in order to be considered integral? And since the word “integral” is often synonymous with phrases like “a theory of everything,” wouldn’t that require each piece of integral art to cover all possible bases—including all quadrants, all levels, all lines, all states, and all types in the artwork itself?

In this interview Ken shines some light on these important questions, offering a simple coherent definition of Integral Art while explaining how it both includes and sets itself apart from every other artistic movement in history. If you are new to the integral aesthetic experience and are looking for a basic introduction to the major forms and functions of Integral Art, you will not want to miss this talk…!

Take a Moment

Perspectives on Beauty: Of course, there is much more to the Integral Art experience than just sitting back and taking it all in. We are more than just idle consumers of art—we are also the enactors of art, co-conspirators in Beauty’s unveiling. Our interpretations of beauty are therefore at least as important as our actual perceptions of beauty, and certainly indivisible from the whole of our experience. As such, we want to give you the tools needed to help you more deeply perceive and interpret the beauty that surrounds you.

Take a few moments to check out Michael Schwartz’s exquisite exploration Looking at the Overlooked as he guides us through some key perspectives to help deepen our experience of art, beauty, and the creative impulse.

Image: Griffin by Mark T. Smith

Looking at the Overlooked: Integrally Experiencing a Rubinov-Jacobson Drawing

with Michael Schwartz and Phillip Rubinov-Jacobson

Last month we introduced Light of the Muse, an Integral Life Art Gallery featuring the work of Philip Rubinov Jacobson. Amongst the twenty-four works on display, the one many people might well overlook is this small and exquisite drawing. With Philip’s consent and support, we are going to focus on this drawing, exercising our skills at approaching a work of art in an authentically integral manner. By doing so, first we activate the various perspectives on art (including becoming aware where we are stuck in the fluidity of our perspective taking); thusly setting the stage for integrating those perspectives into higher-order aesthetic perceiving. Working with a drawing is especially germane, as drawings, in their delicacy and intimacy, demand nuanced attentiveness and discernment….

Light of the Muse

November 11, 2009

Light of the Muse
Philip Rubinov Jacobson

“What I learn and feel, and what I artistically express all reflect an underlying spiritual quest. My work is concerned with the mysteries of life and the perennial questions that arise from such a pursuit. Art is a spiritual practice that casts aside the fallacies of dogma and tenet, expresses Goodness, Beauty and Truth and is never satisfied with anything substitute or counterfeit. I would describe myself as an “creatuitive artist’, that is, I combine creativity and intuition in my search for spiritual revelation….”

Integral Art and Literary Theory (excerpt from The Eye of Spirit)
Ken Wilber

A pièce de résistance in its own right, here Ken Wilber walks us through his integral process of art interpretation and takes an in-depth look at a famous painting by Van Gogh of a pair of worn shoes.