color Beyond Kandinsky: Response to Joseph and Taney

The year 2011 marks the centennial of the publication of Wassily Kandinsky's classic text, On the Spiritual in Art. Inspired by this anniversary, this project set out to explore the place of the spiritual in contemporary art and to propose a challenge to the current devaluation of the inner life that prevails within the art world in our market-driven era.

Beginning on Wednesday, March 30th, 2011, a ten-day virtual symposium moderated by Taney Roniger and Eric Zechman was held in this forum. The symposium closed on the evening of Friday, April 8th. Below is the full record of the proceedings.

Panelists invited to participate were: Suzanne Anker, Laura Battle, Connie Beckley, Anney Bonney, Deirdre Boyle, Nathaniel Dorsky, Jeff Edwards, James Elkins, Max Gimblett, Tom Huhn, Atta Kim, Roger Lipsey, Enrique Martinez Celaya, Joseph Nechvatal, Daniel Siedell, Charlene Spretnak, David Levi Strauss, Alan Wanzenberg, and Pawel Wojtasik. For participant biographies and other project details, please visit our site:


March 30th–April 1st: Session I: The Spiritual Then and Now

April 2nd–April 3rd: Session II: The Changing Shape of Art

April 4th-5th: Session III: Art and Its Audience

April 6th–April 7th: Session IV: The Artist in Society

April 8th: Conclusions


Monday, April 4, 2011

Response to Joseph and Taney

If this ends up NOT as a comment to the thread, my apologies. I am technologically challenged.

Joseph, thank you, I will certainly look for that book.

And Taney, as far as "the incomparable power of practice—of making—and its strange power to generate meaning", as an artist and teacher (I am by no means a scholar), all I strive to do is to convey exactly that to others.

My students in prison do dwell on their individual narratives as a means of self expression. They don't know any other way. Since I am not allowed to discuss their crimes with them, I try to work them towards a kind of poetry. Abstraction? Forget about it. They could care less. Tried that. (They HATED Kandinsky and Klee!). One successful assignment was to have them each write a haiku and to draw it. I figured, "How much of a story can they tell in 17 syllables?". (Though the next week one student said, "Professor, did you know that the word 'incarceration' has 5 syllables?"). Most, however found symbolism and universal meaning by being limited to a few words. That was a major breakthrough.

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