Two years ago, the Art Monastery Project officially began a multi-year cycle of contemplative and creative explorations based around the different daily rituals of western monasticism, each performed at a different time of day, and each with different symbology and thematic content.
In 2012, it was Vigils, the midnight hour. Emptiness, stillness, death. This was my first summer in Italy with the Art Monastery Project. The performance we created was one of the largest projects the AMP had ever undertaken. It was a glorious and profound experience. And it was the last year those ArtMonks, who had each spent several years holding the open space of the Art Monastery Project, would host other artists. The end of an era. A death.
After the midnight hour comes pre-dawn, liminal space, the in-between. In 2013, the Art Monastery as an organization underwent wave after wave of deep questioning. A core group of ArtMonks was still in Italy, but with too much uncertainty to host other artists. Still the project continued, and they practiced Art Monasticism together. Back in NYC, I hosted each of them in turn, on their visits to the United States. Our conversations revolved around a deep desire for the Art Monastery to blossom, matched by an even deeper abyss of obstacles.
2014. Now it’s Dawn. New beginnings, rebirth, awakening.
This summer, fifteen ArtMonks will convene in a new home—an ancient monastery in Caramanico Terme, Abruzzo, where an Italian Arts Organization called ReTe is launching a new 6 year theater residency program.
It’ll just be a month in Italy. It’s coming up soon but still full of unknowns. We and our new Italian partners, the administrators of ReTe, have expressed mutual interest in this summer as a “trial year,” building toward possibility for future growth.
I am sharing organizational responsibility and logistics planning with three other previous ArtMonks. For all four of us, this is a first, to be hosting instead of hosted at the AMP. Hence my first AMP blog post, and numerous other firsts on the horizon. The year of the Dawn seems like an appropriate year for firsts on the horizon.
Once we’re all together, rising with the sun, sharing group contemplation and collaborative creativity, I’m sure we’ll collectively learn a great deal more about the Dawntime.
But already I know it’s deliciously colorful. Honestly, it’s often groggy, a little slow, not the most clearheaded. We already know that. But somehow still spacious and fresh. It’s a time of surprising, unforeseeable transformation—who could possibly predict the bright fullness of morning that grows out of those first rays of light.
We certainly don’t know what’s coming, but in this open-ended moment, there is much to celebrate.
More soon. I think we can all expect that much. More soon,
If you’re interested or involved enough in the Art Monastery Project, I hope to experience some new beginnings with you. If you have questions about this summer, or reflections of dawn to share, feel free to email email@example.com.