Praxis
Penny Slinger

The link between art and spirituality has oft been both mysterious yet palpable. The Praxis project is an effort to make the historically ethereal connection between these themes more tangible by inviting artists to describe how the two interrelate within their work. We reached out to artists and proposed to them a question: How would you define the role of spirituality within your art practice and how do you feel this affects your artwork?

Here you will find their answers.

“There is no point in being ‘spiritual’ if that does not percolate into every action you make . . .”

That is a big question and honestly at this point in my life I do not perceive any distinctions between spiritual and non spiritual. It is all spiritual to me, this material plane is just a veil over the inner eternal spirit.

I see the role of spiritual awareness as being central in my life and my art. Again, I do not draw hard lines between my life and art, they are one intricate weave.

I suppose the idea of weaving together the spiritual and the material, the sacred and profane is core to my practice. I am a practicing Tantrika and Tantra means to weave and to expand. The expansion comes with lifting the limits on the individual self and expanding into the multidimensional selves that we really are. The removing of limitations is at the heart of my endeavours. Removing the boxes society puts us in and reaching further into the realm of infinite potential. That is my kind of spiritual practice.

Hermetic Vessel, photo montage/collage from ‘An Exorcism’, 18.5 x 12.5 inches, 1969-1977, © Penny Slinger

“I have tackled the interface of spirit and matter all my life . . .”

I have tackled the interface of spirit and matter all my life in my artwork and have found myself living on this cutting edge.

For myself I have followed the path of my heart and my spiritual callings, even when that has gone against establishing my position in the art world. I have had to be true to myself because, in the end, what else is there?

There have been several bodies of work in my career as an artist that have dealt specifically with spirituality and its interface into our lives. There is no point in being ‘spiritual’ if that does not percolate into every action you make, every word you utter and all your worldly interactions. That is the kind of radical spirituality I am promoting, for myself and others.

I produced over 600 drawings and co-wrote the text for ‘Sexual Secrets, the Alchemy of Ecstasy’ (1979). This publication was created to introduce people to the idea that sexuality can be seen as sacred, not shameful. Understanding that the body is a temple and reclaiming it has been at the forefront of my work in the realm of spirituality.

Tantric Yab Yum, pencil drawing on paper, 15 x 12 inches, 1978, © Penny Slinger

“. . . I have followed the path of my heart and my spiritual callings . . .”

When living in the Caribbean for 15 years, the spirit of the Arawak peoples, the Indigenous first inhabitants of the islands, came through to me loud and clear and I dedicated myself to embodying them through my art during my sojourn there. I firmly believe that the indigenous model of honoring the spirit in all things is one we urgently need to embrace if we want a future on and for this planet.

Finally, although all my art has spirit at its root, the 64 Dakini Oracle is probably my most ambitious spiritual art undertaking. The Oracle includes 64 forms of the Divine Feminine. Modelled on the 64 Yogini Temples of Tantric India and with affinity to the I Ching, it is a Goddess Temple for our times, accessed through the process of divination (a way to get direct connection).

Death, Fire and the Shaman, pastel on paper, 34 x 24 inches, 1988, © Penny Slinger

As the alchemists of old realised that making gold was not just a material pursuit but a spiritual quest, so I would describe myself as an artist/alchemist, where my raw materials are always refined by the power of spirit in the process.

A partner of mine, the late Nik Douglas, once said, ‘You can’t be an artist and a mystic, you have to choose.’ But I cannot choose, I am both.

Alchemica, digital collage from 64 Dakini Oracle, 39 x 26 inches, 2010, ©Penny Slinger

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