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SPIRITUAL ART PILGRIM INTERVIEW: Callahan Pope McDonough–Feminist Artist Engaged in Timelessness with Passion and Soul

art photo 19Callahan McDonough Talking Hallelujah Truth

SPIRITUAL ART PILGRIM INTERVIEW: Callahan Pope McDonough–Feminist Artist Engaged in Timelessness with Passion and Soul

 *note* all copyrights  this interview: Ruth Schowalter & photos

 

In the second week of May 2013, following Callahan Pope McDonough’s art opening of “A Sword of Moonlight and Imperishable Love” at Sight and Sound Gallery in the StudioPlex, I ventured to the Old Fourth Ward, to Callahan’s loft space where she works and lives.
Hallelujah for the light and spaciousness of her studio living space, for it elevated me to an altered state of consciousness. Afternoon sunlight illuminated her large colorful paintings, which spoke loudly and deeply to me. Callahan’s organic gluten free chocolate chip cookies and herbal tea kept me grounded as we engaged in the following interview.
 art photo 2Callahan McDonough Studio Hallelujah Truth
LIGHT FILLED SPACIOUSNESS. Callahan’s studio space in the Old Fourth Ward dazzles with its high ceilings and sunfilled walls, countertops, and floor! Her current work is now on exhibit at the Sight and Sound Gallery in the Old Fourth Ward, Atlanta, Georgia, USA. “A Sword of Moonlight and Imperishable Love” can be viewed until June 28, 2013. Original pieces of her work are available for purchase, as well as giclees at affordable prices. (photo by Hallelujah Truth)
HALLELUJAH TRUTH: Give me your personal definition of ART

CALLAHAN: Well, that’s like saying what’s my definition of God?
There are different ways to go about defining art. There is a lot out there today that’s called art, and it’s not art. In some ways it easier to say what its not, overall, it’s complex, subjective and mind boggling.
HALLELUJAH TRUTH: In this moment, how would you go about defining art? It’s okay if your definition is primitive.
CALLAHAN:  When I was in art school— the big “A” art was a constant source of debate. In my view, this big “A” art has to have some kind of relationship to art as it relates to art history. A sense of context, even if one is defying art history, you have to have it in your bones what you are making in relationship to the art, the history that’s preceded. Some exceptions to this would be naïve artists, like Howard Finster.I guess, my definition of art is that it has relevance and impact beyond the meaning it has for me, the maker of art.

 art photo 1364846398_The_Dream_of_a_Common_Lang_1
HALLELUJAH TRUTHExplain relevance.
CALLAHAN: I don’t know how to explain relevance exactly but that everything is related and has impact. Relevance is another word for relationship.
But nobody can ultimately codify this relevance because it is a paradox. Most people who are artists are renegades. The nature of this paradox is that there are two realities, that seem to contradict but within the nature of paradox, both are true at the same time. My sense of it is: relationship + connection of all life forms.
 art photo-mother-may-2013-revised
Mother

HALLELUJAH TRUTH: What is SPIRITUALITY to you?

CALLAHAN: Spirituality is something I have a sense about, what I consider a deep knowing based on my experience of it. It really defies description, but words are what we have and need to describe life, but of course words and our minds are limited. So that is my instinct/knowing; i.e., my sense is that there is something that is me and simultaneously greater than me which I am and we all are part of. I personally choose to call this God. And so this question is a little bit like your question, “What is art.”

I can tell you what “spirituality” is not.
It is not some big guy somewhere in the clouds like a puppeteer, proclaiming: ‘Here I give you goodies today and I withhold goodies from these other folks.’ That is a no brainer. Those paradigms of a deity that no longer serve, they limit us and create confusion.
In my view “Religious” institutions have given God a bad name. Religions have been coopted for patriarchal agendas, money and control. There are some religions that are transcending this pattern, but if there is a dogma within a teaching that dictates how we live beyond, love each other and do not harm yourself or another, it’s been coopted for other agendas.
There is no specific version of God. We make symbols to convey our pretty limited perceptions of God and that is where art can be profound, elegant, and diverse.  Art ultimately leaves the experience in the hands of the viewer.
For me, I can call spirituality God, or you can call it Mother Nature or M & M’s. “It” doesn’t need you to name it. I do have a sense that there is something profound about Life itself.In the book, Not God, which was Ernest Kurtz’s PhD thesis about the history of Alcoholics Anonymous, Kurtz describes that his research showed that Alcoholics who came into recovery and had lasting sobriety/recovery where able to make the shift from “I am God”  (be there a God OR NOT, whichever is so) to:  “I am not God”.
What that translates to is that none of us can “carry the worry” or “solve all the problems” or control anything completely. Frequently in childhood we imagine that’s our job and then that causes a sense of being alone, cut off from humanity, anything spiritual, our authentic selves.
In my generation, there was so much emphasis on finding identity. There was a kind of narcissism in the searching for me, me, me….
There needs to be a shift to include me+you+WE.  …………. Continue reading »