MISSION: The Art Monastery Project is an American 501(c)(3) non-profit arts organization dedicated to cultivating personal awakening and cultural transformation through art, community, and contemplation. As a “social sculpture,” the Art Monastery considers communities and collaborations themselves as creative media and values the creative process and experience of all impacted when developing a wide range of performance and visual art.
HISTORY: The brainchild of American artists Betsy McCall and Christopher Fülling and , the Project began at its pilot site, Art Monastery Italia, by applying the monastic principles of discipline, contemplation, and sustainable living to creativity and the art-making process. There, a small residential community of “artmonks” hosted many visiting artists and guest Artmonks-in-Residence while living and working together in a centuries-old, former monastery. Together they created dozens of original works, symposia, exhibitions, and site-specific performances that animated historic spaces throughout Italy and interacted with the local communties. Their half-decade in Italy culminated with an EU grant to partner with six other intentional communities throughout Europe to share experiences and develop best practices, resulting in the publication of a book, Hosting Transformation.
CURRENT: From its new headquarters in Los Angeles, the Art Monastery Project is refocussing its energies in the US and to the extensive network of “artmonks” everywhere through online community and coordinating artist residencies, performances, and art project development at its new “aRt & D Labs” in Hollywood and in a new monthlong residency at a monastery in Abruzzo, Italy. It will continue its ongoing US activities, such as the artmonk chapters in several cities and their annual Artmonk Retreats (a week-long silent meditation retreat exploring the intersection between contemplation and creativity).
Our Values: Creativity, Contemplation, and Integrity
As an Art Monastery, we value art. We value the discipline, contemplation and sustainability of monasticism. We value monastic art, and artistic monasticism. We value the process, as well as the final product.
As a business we honor and respect people and the environment. We seek to do no harm. Our profit goes to the common good.
As an organization, we honor the vertical as well as the horizontal. We are an egalitarian community, yet we utilize the effective power of credential, authority, hierarchy, and institution. We believe in transparency and accountability (open communication; checks and balances of power, etc.).
As a community of individuals, we honor autonomy and privacy, as well as self-transcendance & community. We honor paths of personal, interpersonal (community), and transpersonal (spiritual) development.
As artists, we value virtuosic, world-class art, yet we believe that, as Joseph Beuys said, “everyone is an artist.”
As Artmonks, we aim to live at the intersection of the good (ethics and integrity), the true (spirituality and contemplation), and the beautiful (art and creativity), and to serve as a mirror for the world (reflecting its sanity in our rules, while reflecting back both sanity and its insanity in our art).
As part of an order, the International Otherhood of Artmonks, we share our models, tools, structures and solutions with other communities within and without the Otherhood. We act as an autonomous representative of the brand, open-source lineage, and institutions of the Otherhood.
As humans, we honor the mystic as well as the skeptic; the hermit as well as the cenobite; the sacred as well as the profane; stabilitas as well as flux; individual religious faiths as well as no faith at all; sexuality as well as celibacy; singleness, monogamy and polyamory; homo-, hetero-, bi-, trans- and a-sexuality; intoxication as well as sobriety; the dual as well as the non-dual.
The pilot site and first major program of the Project was Art Monastery Italia. AM Italia intended to transform a historic Italian monastery into an international arts production center. As an extended experiment in monastic community, a long-term team of Artmonks operated AM Italia and hosted other artists, volunteers, and interns for short periods of time. The community typically peaked in the summertime at 15 to 25 members, but throughout the year individuals (whether permanent members or visiting members passing through) became part of the community that was dedicated to investigating monasticism, co-creating art projects, sharing experimental spiritual practices, building artistic skills and technique, living together intentionally, and taking part in daily living chores and activities. From 2010-2012, Art Monastery Italia was located in the monastery San Antonio in the medieval hill town of Labro, 70 minutes north east of Rome. In 2013, the project was hosted in Puglia, Italy in collaboration with the Accademia del Rinascimento Mediterraneo.
2014 launched a new Art Monastery Italia, in Caramanico, Abruzzo. A monthlong trial Laboratory yielded a fantastic new Italian partnership with our Abruzzese hosts ReTe, and a new Dance-Theater performance “Prime,” which has since toured around 40 performances in 9 cities, through Italy, Belgium, Germany, Sweden and Dubai!
2015 We’ll return to Carmanico for a 2 week theater festival “L’Incontro Teatrale di Carmanico,” followed by a weeklong Vacation Getaway, and a two-month Monastic Laboratory. Currently accepting applications from mid-career Artmonks and college-senior or recent-graduate Interns!
September-December 2006: The idea is born! Planning phase (based in San Francisco)
January-December 2007: Monastery search: looked at 25 monasteries across Italy More…
June 2007: First Art Monastery production: The Pacelli Project performs in Calvi dell’Umbria, Italy
January 2008: Art Monastery Italia legally formed as an Italian non-profit, Associazione Culturale (based in Calvi’s Casa del’Popolo) More…
March 2008: Art Monastery Project receives 501(c)(3) status as an American non-profit (based in San Francisco)
June-August 2008: First Artist Residencies at Art Monastery Italia; Began Symposium series; hosted first workshop (based in Calvi’s Casale S. Brigida) More…
April-August 2009: First Art Monastery Summer Festival in Calvi dell’Umbria More…
January 2010: First Artmonk Retreat at the Integratron in southern California
April 2010: Relocate Art Monastery Italia to the monastery in Labro, Italy! More…
May-September 2010: Second Art Monastery Summer Festival (based in the monastery in Labro)
January 2011: Second Artmonk Retreat at the Integratron in southern California
January-February 2011: Artmonk Roadtrip across the U.S., Founded 8 local chapters across the U.S.
April-September 2011: Third Art Monastery Summer Festival (based in the monastery in Labro). (See 2011 Annual Report.)
October 2011: First Art Monastery San Francisco production: concert as part of Art in Nature: Nature in Art festival in Oakland, California and first Art Monastery Short Film Festival in Labro, Italy
February 2012: Third Artmonk Retreat at Briarcombe in northern California
May-September 2012: Fourth Art Monastery Summer Festival (based in the monastery in Labro)
January 2013: Fourth Artmonk Retreat at Briarcombe in northern California
April-June 2013: Art Monastery Research & Development hosted by the Accademia del Rinascimento Mediterraneo near Lecce, Italy
June 29 – July 7, 2013: Changemaker Festival, co-organized with the International Partnership for Transformational Learning, Järna, Sweden
August 2013: Base of operations moves to U.S.; programming on pause while we regroup and reflect.
Aug 2013: Beginning of performance collaborations with The Alchemy.
Dec 2013: Visioning retreat, hosted by The Alchemy in Los Angeles; collaborative Solstice Theatre Ritual.
July 6-11, 2014: Second Changemaker’s Festival in Zagreb, Croatia
August-October 2014: Artmonk creative residency in Caramanico, Abruzzo, Italy. Prime tours Europe.
January-February 2015: Prime tours Dubai.
July 15-30 2015: Incontro Teatrale di Caramanico (Caramanico Theater Festival)
August 1-8 2015: New program launch — Art Monastery Vacation Getaway
August 9 – October 5 2015: Art Monastic Laboratory, Caramanico
February 2016: Monthlong Practice Period, Lyons, CO
April 2016: Artmonk Retreat, Lyons, CO
July – September 2016: Art Monastery Laboratory, Vermont
September 2016: Artmonk Retreat, Vermont
May 2017 – May 2018: Art Monastery residency, Vermont