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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Creating art as an act of prayer Hastings Adlparvar, Erika


The purpose of this inquiry was to explore the process of creating art as an act of prayer. The qualitative research methodologies of arts based research and autoethnography provided the structure for this exploration along with visual journals, artist meetings and interviews. Fourteen artists, who are also members of the Baha'i Faith, investigated and reflected on their practice of creativity and its connection to prayer, spirituality, meditation and reflection. The creation of artwork was an indispensable element throughout this exploration; therefore the artists' work, including both text and visual, is intermixed throughout this presentation along with narrative, poetry, juxtaposed and layered text and my personal reflections and artwork. It was found that for most of the artists, practicing and reflecting on their art as t prayer served as a catalyst for personal transformation. It stimulated a change in the artists' perception of art; assisted them to develop new insights into prayer and meditation; provided new motivations for creating art; gave them courage to shed their fears about creating art and seeking approval from others; enabled them to face the battles against their egos and to use challenges as triggers for transformation; helped them to develop new spiritual qualities; enabled them to connect with others in a supportive environment; provided an opportunity for them to increase their capacity for reflection; and helped them to understand and work with the creative process. The artists also found that creating sacred space, using a beauty seeing eye and focusing on encouragement were some of the things that enhanced this process. These findings hold special implications for education where taboos around topics of spirituality, prayer, God and religion have been created. Based on the changes and personal transformations that the artists in this study experienced throughout their exploration, I expect that other artists, students or teachers could have similar experiences. The experiences of these artists with art, prayer and the journey toward the Creator will hopefully resonate with the reader, provide glimpses into their own experience and enable them to better understand their personal journey.

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