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.
The brainchild of American artists Betsy McCall and Christopher Fülling and founded in 2007, the Project applies the monastic principles of discipline, contemplation, and sustainable living to creativity and the art-making process. The pilot site and first major program of the Project is Art Monastery Italia. AM Italia hosts a small residential long-term community as well as short-term visiting artists and mid-range Artmonks-in-Residence. Together, these international artists from various disciplines collaborate under the unique circumstances of a temporary monastic community to work together and share different methodologies of art-making. Additionally, the Art Monastery Project supports US-based programs, such as concerts and an annual Artmonk Retreat (a week-long silent meditation retreat exploring the intersection between contemplation and creativity), and plans to found Art Monastery San Francisco in the future. In all of its programs, the Art Monastery Project is committed to investigating the idea of “social sculpture” and develops a wide range of performance-based and visual art works in a mode that focuses as much on the process of creation as on the final products.
The Art Monastery Project is a radical experiment in contemporary social sculpture inspired by tradition: to apply the disciplined, contemplative, and sustainable monastic way of living to the creative process.
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 is Art Monastery Italia. AM Italia intends 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 operate AM Italia and hosts other artists, volunteers, and interns for short periods of time. The community peaks in the summertime at 15 to 25 members, but throughout the year individuals (whether permanent members or visiting members passing through) become part of the community that is 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. Beginning in 2013, the project will embark on a new collaboration with the Accademia del Rinascimento Mediterraneo in Puglia, Italy.
Art Monastery Italia is open annually March through December. For information on visiting, please visit our Location page.
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)
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