World travels in my early years led to a fascination with finding pathways between cultures, discovering how they connect, how they differ, and how they can flow into each other. This fascination led me to host, for over 20 years, Walkabout, a weekly radio program devoted to World Music on KGNU, Boulder’s community radio station. Each program was an auditory journey from one place on the globe to another, enhanced with stories and interviews. All the while my painting was influenced by art of non-European cultures. While working on a Masters in Humanities at the University of Colorado at Denver, I glimpsed the encompassing scope of World Art in courses taught by José Argüelles. I developed a two semester survey course in World Art intended to provide an overview of art of the world. Artistic traditions of the world are inseparably linked with the mythic imagination unique to each culture. It was for this reason that I undertook a Doctoral program in Mythological Studies at Pacifica Graduate Institute in Santa Barbara, California.The arts of the world are a vast tapestry in which countless threads are woven in and through the warp threads of the phenomenal world, mingling of mind and world. Images, patterns, symbols, tell stories within stories within stories of the circulation of world and mind.
My approach to the study of World Art provides an alternative to the conventional Eurocentric study of art history, indeed of the humanities as a whole. My approach is relevant as much to literature, music, and dance as it is to the visual arts.
The array of images, stories, patterns, and materials of World Art is a boundless source of manna, of nourishment, inspiration, and guidance for artists. World Art is a display of poetic intelligence that encourages circulation between mind and world. The arts of the world are an invitation to step into and be borne along by the deep, many streamed ancestral river of imagination that we have inherited, simply by virtue of being human and being alive.
The assignments I give in my World Art courses require an integration of language with artistic skills, including painting, drawing, and sculpture.
My World Art syllabus includes:
- Art of the Caves; Sacred Landscape: Huichol, Navajo, Australian Aboriginal. Masks and Body Art: New Guinea, Pacific Northwest, Nuba.
- Goddesses and the Arts of Women: prehistoric art mobilier, weaving, house decoration.
- Horsemen, Thunder, and Sky Gods: Scythians, burial mounds, calendars of stone.
- Kings and Metal smiths: Art of Ife and West Africa, including Benin and Ghana.
- Mythical god-kings, underworld journeys, and cosmic tombs: the Mediterranean Cauldron: Egypt, Mesopotamia, and Greece.
- Jeweled temples, Dancing Gods, and Psycho-cosmic Diagrams: the art of Hindu India.
- Emperors, Vessels, and Cloud Dragons: the art of China.
- Art of Buddhist influenced civilizations: India, Indonesia, China, Japan, and Tibet.
- Art of Islam: Geometry and pattern; book arts and architecture; textile arts.
- Art of Medieval Christianity: Arts and non-European Christianity; Gothic Cathedrals.
- The Renaissance in Southern Europe: from Giotto to the Renaissance.
- Art of Northern Europe: the Alchemical Tradition, Breughel and Bosch.
- Art of 17th and 18th Century Europe: Classicism and Romanticism.
- 19th century art of Europe and the United States: Early Photography, French landscape painting.
- Art of the 20th and 21st Centuries Modernism to Post-Modernism: Cubism, Surrealism and Expressionism; Land art.