I had the pleasure of staffing a creative retreat with internationally renowned artists, Alex and Allyson Grey, and wanted to provide a brief write up of my rich experience in their company.
Alex Grey's work has been described as psychedelic, shamanic, clarevoyant, spiritual, visionary, life altering and an exploration of polarities. He has developed art work and set designs for bands such as Tool and Nirvana and he teaches workshops for the Omega Institute in New York.
As a person, Alex is kind, extremely contemplative and sensitive. A soft spoken, philosophical and spiritual scholar as well as accomplished artist, he carries great hope for the future of human consciousness.
Both he and Allyson were a source of inspiration and wisdom throughout the 10 day experience; and although Alex welcomed interaction with others in the group, he seemed more at ease when sketching, reflecting or writing in his own quiet solitude.
My impression of Alex as an artist is that he has an advanced capacity to access his own unique and authentic power source. You might call it a symbiotic connection with the higher self that merges the inner and outer (nonphysical) realms-- or a fully developed "secret language" as his wife Allyson might put it. Grey's vision and perception allow him to channel information from those unseen worlds to the physical one, as a conduit or bridge-- finding a way to capture and bring back his encounters and share them on the canvas. One might call Alex Grey one of the few visual ambassadors to the spirit world doing integrative spirit work.
A fan of Ken Wilbur's philosophical writings, Grey told me that he was testing applications of Wilbur's theories on the world of art and artists. He commented that each person's version of how the world is perceived and experienced is simultaneously individual and collective. The conversation with art is a question of getting from one to the other and cycling back again, according to Grey. Much of the forward motion along this cyclical progression hinges on how far the artist is willing to take their visions from the conceptual inner world to physical manifestation, dissemination and openness to societal scrutiny.
In consideration of art as a healing expression, it strikes me that getting out of the "spirit" or "world inside the head" and into physical form is the most essential stage for anyone with a creative story trapped within them. Some are content and at peace even if their art fails to see the light of day, just to give form to their thoughts.
It may be more about honoring and expressing the energy that spawned the creative impulse in the first place than trying to carry it out into the outside world for me. That being said, it's only when I produce and receive feedback about how my art is received that I get a better idea of how to package and refine my secret language to better communicate my individual creative world's contents.
What I most admire about Alex is his awareness of the depths of his responsibility as an artist and healer. He understands that his gifts have launched him into a position of service that comes along with success.
It may be this call to service that explains why both Alex and Allyson are intent on helping to build a bridge between mindscape and physical reality for others through their workshops and other projects. Their workshops, for example, each start with a guided meditation or journey through the individual's inner world, placing focus on allowing the artist to feel stillness, safety, and peace; to better capture essential inner symbols and images. The Greys understand that laying emphasis on clearing and opening the mind to its natural creative power is the best and perhaps only way to unearth the artist and her abundant supplies of artistic treasure.
Anyone who has developed a craft, found their unique creative voice and who feels compelled to deliver their message has the rare ability to give form to the formless; therein, I believe, explains Alex Grey's popularity and the love he receives from his supporters.
I am deeply grateful to the Greys for sharing their time and insights. I wish them the very best in fulfilling their important vision and invite you to be part of the COSM project. Visit their website for more information and upcoming events.