Confessional Artists: The Spiritual Vocation of Creative Professionals

Bodhi Obfuscatus (Space Baby). By Michael Joo. From

Since my schooldays I’ve been interested in exploring the discourse around “confessional” professions. In popular culture, it’s still assumed that one can trace a straight line from a business degree to a job in a bank, or from a law degree to a practicing barrister’s office. Assuming a linear progression from school to industry is probably somewhat outdated for today’s professionals. Personally, I believe in the mantra of serving society, but in a way meaningful to one’s own calling and encouraging to one’s talents. However, the question that did inspire me was: what is the connection between a “spiritual” and “professional” calling, beyond the stereotypical image of becoming a priest or entering a convent?

Some time ago I wrote a blog post highlighting my upcoming project of developing a discourse about the relationship between contemporary art and religion. Since then I’ve decided to call this project, Confessional Artists: The Spiritual Vocation of Creative Professionals. This series seeks to articulate a discourse about artists who make their living making spiritual, Buddhist-themed art, and the dialectic relationship between their everyday profession and their spiritual ideas or beliefs. At which point does one vocation end and the other begin? How do they interact with each other, or do they meld into one? This series attempts to answer these questions and more by featuring and analyzing the work of many such confessional artists. It seeks to develop an initial perspective on this emerging industry of contemporary creative professionals directly inspired by Dharmic thought.

I invite you to join me on this fascinating, globe-crossing journey as I interview diverse artists who use an infinitely inventive range of materials and mediums to create works of aesthetic pleasure and spiritual resonance.

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