Art & Monasticism Symposium

Next week, Transpositions will be hosting an online symposium on Art and Monasticism. Historically, monasticism has been a fertile field for the cultivation of the visual arts, especially icons, as well as musical compositions, especially those designed to help with the chanting of the Psalms. Today, some artists outside the monastery are exploring how the monastic environment can enrich both their spiritual and their artistic lives. In addition, the traditional monastic arts, such as icon writing, continue to be practiced by artists working within the monastic community. We have organised a series of guest posts from a variety of artists influenced by monastic tradition, and hope you will add your voice to the conversation.

Upcoming posts include:

Monday, 30 April: ‘The Artist Begins Again and Again’ – Christine Valters Paintner, a Benedictine oblate and online Abbess of Abbey of the Arts, shares wisdom for artists from the Desert Fathers and the Benedictine tradition.

Tuesday, 1 May: ‘Brush Stroked Incense: How Painting and Monks Taught Me to Pray’ – Preston Yancey, an incoming MLitt student in the Institute for Theology, Imagination and the Arts, offers a meditation on how the discipline of the Divine Office deepened his experience of painting as prayer.

Wednesday, 2 May: ‘The Art Monastery: Open-Source Monasticism’ – Nathan Rosquist, founder of the Art Monastery San Francisco, talks about using both Western and Eastern monasticism as ‘open-source software’ for artistic creation.

Thursday, 3 May: ‘The Art Monastery: Monastic Technologies’ – Nathan Rosquist continues his discussion of ‘open-source monasticism’ by sharing specific monastic ‘technologies’ used in the Art Monastery Project.

Friday, 4 May: ‘Thoughts on Consecrated Life for Artists’ – Cole Matson, PhD candidate in the Institute for Theology, Imagination and the Arts and regular Transpositions contributor, presents some thoughts on possible forms of consecrated life for artists.

We hope you will join us for the symposium and share your own thoughts on Art and Monasticism in the comments!


  • Cole Matson is an actor, producer, and arts administrator. He received his PhD from the Institute for Theology, Imagination and the Arts in 2016.

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  1. says: Joseph Tenney

    This is fantastic! Thank you, Cole, for your ministry and passion. I’m looking forward to it!

  2. says: Cole Matson

    Thanks, Joseph. Btw, thanks for posting about the Theatrical Theology conference at your own blog!

  3. says: jfutral

    Great symposium. Spiritual and practical—not a combination often found. A lot of what was said reminded me of Carey Wallace’s Working Artist Initiative with I-AM (International Arts Movement) formed to help artists where they often need it most—work discipline and that through committing to a regimen in a community of other artists. This is an excerpt from a presentation on the project I heard Carey give:

    “…artists give themselves all kinds of excuses, or even tell themselves lies, as to why they’re not making work. And a sympathetic non-artist stands in danger of believing these falsehoods, and even building programs around them, when in reality all the artist may need is for someone to somewhat unsympathetically tell them to get back to work.”

    I love that line.

    One of the most, imho, important aspects is also the affect this approach seems to have on other aspects of one’s life. not just art making. The effect of not getting enough sleep or not eating well becomes evident and changes there need to occur. The effect of a prayer life can also take shape.

    Through art making and creating, just as with community, I think when one participates in the nature of how we are created, lives how we were created to live, living in that image of God, the result is theology rather than using theology as the starting point to form nature. Not sure that made sense. Not sure how to better articulate that thought.

    Anyway. Great posts and discussions. Also, the Abbey of Regina Laudis in Connecticut is home to some great cheese!


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