The collection I created along my RSA journey reflects my evolving spiritual and artistic expressions rooted in asset-based community development (ABCD), which sees the world as a place of abundance instead of scarcity. As a community, we shine a light on the gifts & talents of our neighbors, invest in those talents, create economy and mutual delight. Artistically during this journey, I let go of rigid beliefs about photography and began to discover my inner digital artist. My base work starts with one or more photographs – but has evolved into conceptual digital art with layering, abstraction and other dimensions! Welcome to my magical journey!
In a world of scarcity, there is only competition – Sharks. In a world of abundance, there is only collaboration – Dolphins. I choose to swim with the dolphins, having great faith in humanity. Since I first opened my studio in 2012, I’ve always been looking for ways to collaborate with other artists, using my art and storytelling to shine a light on their amazing gifts and talents. I routinely use Creative Commons licensing in my projects, which enables collaboration, growth, and generosity. It’s ABCD-based licensing for multi-media creations, designed for dolphins!
Water From The Rock Exhibition
Coming out of this journey, I am bringing forward several pieces of work as The Community Well in 5D as part of the The Religion, Spirituality, and the Arts (RSA) program of the IUPUI Arts and Humanities.
This year’s them looks at texts from Exodus and Numbers:
In the religious imagination, water quenches both physical and spiritual thirst. In the most unexpected places wells and rocks become the bearers of story. Focusing on the Exodus narrative of Moses’ striking the rock, which reveals an aquifer, we will consider the power of water as sustenance, healing, and renewal. The seminar will explore how seemingly inanimate entities such as water and rocks might also be alive and help us rethink our relationship to the earth.2021-22 RSA Syllabus
My RSA Journey: 1D to 5D Art
My journey through the RSA experience is part of a larger artistic & spiritual sabbatical during which I’ve been challenging rigid beliefs I hold about photography and religion. I’ve also been using art as therapy, uncovering and healing instances of trauma, abuse, loss & grief – a common theme especially since entering long-term harm reduction in 2010 from a ChemSex addiction to crystal meth.
I started this journey as a traditional photographer, limited to the world I saw through my camera lens – very one dimensional or 1D. While I had already started exploring conceptual digital art with layering and abstraction, I was still stuck in a 2D paradigm.
Seeing how artists from other disciplines in our RSA cohort could interpret the same text in so many different mediums was mind-blowing. It gave me permission to experiment with other art forms. In particular, our study on soundscapes freed me to explore video and sound scapes of my artistic and spiritual journey. I recorded background audio during my landscape or street shoots. I captured time-lapse videos of my studio work. I created a playlist during the RSA experience, adding songs that expressed the emotions, growth, insights, intentions I was experiencing. I shifted into a 3D artistic worldview – images, video, sound.
In one our first RSA exercise, we were introduced to Midrash – a concept I had never encountered before. Midrash gave me permission to see biblical text as stories, which could be explored and expanded to narrate untold parts of these stories, or other perspectives, or alternative realities. For me, this mirrors or validates the concept of space-time and quantum physics. Like the TV show Quantum Leap, we can literally – and artistically – create an alternate version of reality. I accepted more profoundly a 4D worldview, where my choices and intentions manifest my reality.
During my artistic and spiritual sabbatical. I’ve stepped away from my commercial work for a year to study and create art. I had never taken a landscape photography class and was given the opportunity to study under two amazing artists for a week in Maine (Thom Rouse and Al DaValle). During our week, I was able to experiment and create in the 2D and 3D worlds I was discovering through RSA. On Day 1, Al coached me about how he has learned to approach his landscape work. Before he takes a single shot, he pauses – and experiences the moment. He wanted me to feel the space around me, so I could convey that through my digital art. He asked, “how do you want your image to make people feel?” Seemed really hokey at first. As a left-brained engineer, I had never fully embraced the emotional aspects of my art. With Al’s question, he struck a chord in my heart. By the end of the week, I was experiencing art in 5D – images, video, sound, time, and emotion.
The other profound spiritual element during my RSA journey came up during our panel on cultural perspectives. Uranchimeg Tsultem made a comment that resonated deeply with a spiritual journey I’ve been on since turning 50. I started to challenge my traditional Judeo-Christian beliefs. As a gay man, I suffered at the hands of religious bigots who shepherded me through conversion therapy and the ex-gay movement. After 30 years of reliving that trauma, I had finally let go of my identity as a “Christian,” and began to explore Eastern spirituality. But I never understood the fundamental difference until Professor Tsultem’s lecture. Western religions are outward facing, looking to a God outside of us for redemption. Easter spirituality is inward facing, empowering us to accept our own divinity and Source.
Broadway Culinary, Arts & Healing Space
I would be remiss in not talking about my studio. It is located inside a magical space that is home to 18 cooks, artists, & healers in the education wing of a church. There are also three congregations who share space with us. This building is known to the world as Broadway United Methodist Church. It’s known to our neighborhood as the Broadway Culinary, Arts & Healing Community. It is ABCD, lived out in our community with ridiculous love, faith and grace.
Thanks for listening. Keep Tellin’ the Story.
C. Todd Fuqua, CPP
Community Artivist, Connector & Reflector