In-Person: Sympathetic Magic: A Workshop with Kevin Wallace

**Events may have been canceled or postponed. Please contact the venue to confirm the event.

Date & Time

Sat, Dec 04 1:00 PM - 4:00 PM

Address (map)

8585 Ojai-Santa Paula Road, Ojai, California 93023

Venue (website)

Beatrice Wood Center for the Arts

Explore art history, from the archeological evidence of our very first explorations, to better understand and embrace the arts and how they are vital to the human experience. In this workshop, led by Kevin Wallace, director of the Center, participants will draw upon the spirit to explore the roots of human expression and the arts. Following a PowerPoint presentation, drawing upon his book Intersection: Art & Life, participants will work with pencil, paint, and clay to create drawings, paintings, figures, and objects that explore the visual and tactile language of art as a means of self-knowledge and sharing spirit.

The arts were our first means of communication and continue to transcend written and spoken languages. We tell the story of humanity with art, beginning with the earliest moments of expression, discovered in the darkness of caves: images painted by flickering firelight by those who preceded us into the realm of expression.

Henri-Édouard-Prosper Breuil, known as Abbé Breuil, was a French priest, whose life work centered on these early artistic expressions. An archaeologist, anthropologist, ethnologist, and geologist, known for his study and classification of art from the Ice Age, Breuil’s theory of “sympathetic magic” concerned the role of what we now consider art as a means of interacting with the natural world and the spirit realm, as an expression of beauty:

“It has often been debated whether the art of the Stone Age was the product of the artist’s spontaneity, a love of beauty, of art for art’s sake . . . Or whether the creations did not serve some practical, some magic purpose . . . In reality, these two points of view are not contradictory, nor are they mutually exclusive, but they complement each other. No great art can be born or developed without the artistic temperament which is a passionate enthusiasm for beauty. But without a society which shows a real interest in his creations, the artist cannot live or found schools which will ensure that his technical discoveries and his love of beauty will survive and continue both in place and time.” (Henri-Édouard-Prosper Breuil aka Abbé Breuil quoted in Felix R. Paturi, Prehistoric Heritage, Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1979: 55)

All art has a function, whether derived from the utility, interaction with the spirit realm, or intellectual pursuits. Primitive humans viewed the world as interactive on every level, and art was central to the “sympathetic” or “imitative magic” that allowed for communication with the unseen forces behind it all. It was this passionate use of image and form, and the drive to capture the beauty that drove the great artists to similarly act as conduits between the unseen world and community, thereby reinventing painting and sculpture.

This is part of a series of afternoon workshops that introduce participants to working with clay through an exploration of art history and creative expression.


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