Spiritual Adventure in Time & Space

Obit Merce Cunningham

Merce Cunningham, one of the 20th centuries most influential artists, transitioned this past week.  He was 90 years old.

Merce  liked to say that dance was a “spiritual adventure in time and space” for a dancer.  He also said that “Movement, any kind of movement is dance”

He was not unlike so many of the artists who inform my view of art and creativity.  He attended the now legendary Black  Mountain College, a breeding ground for the avant garde  American artist, most who went on to shape the 20th century modern art movement.

What I find so fascinating is that while so many of them went on to be considered legendary in their respective arts, they all shared very non-elitist views of creativity and art making.  M.C Richards, John Cage, Merce Cunningham, , Rudolf Steiner…they all had very transcendent views of art.  Ambiguity and poetry informed their work.  Simple community, lack of competition, the idea that every act was educational, were the themes of their lives and their school.  Everything they did, they saw as an act of  creativity.  There was no wrong answer and no room for false movement.

It was their relationship of the creative life to all life that has drawn me into their work.  They would focus on bringing the creative process into what are often times considered “non art” activities….they would have festivities in a moment’s notice, carry with them a feeling of always creating something, of everyday adventures.  They believed in living out loud in front of others so the world would wake up and see that the smallest things in life can be a celebration.

That is how I choose to honor Merce, to continue to live my own life with that kind of imagination and authenticity, and to encourage others to do the same.  We are ALL artists, constantly creating.  No matter what our medium..even if we don’t have a definable medium…it’s the way in which we author our lives that is so important.  Art is not to dazzle others as M.C. Richards, a contemporary and friend of Merce, once said. “It is to reveal the secrets of our hearts so that others seeing that witness, will have the courage to reveal the secrets of their own hearts.”

May we all have that courage as we go about our daily lives!  I’m up for the spiritual adventure in time and space…how about you?