#Beyond_Belief: Big Questions, Small Answers
Q1: What inspires you?
If we knew exactly where inspiration comes from, we’d be in that place, or doing that thing ALL THE TIME. But participants shared some memorable moments of that sought-after spark, and everyday sources of energy and excitement.
@SFMOMA I am inspired by my 1st interaction with an artwork I love. I think each location as well as my emotions. #Beyond_Belief
— kim drew (@museummammy) October 9, 2013
Feeling inspired today by beautiful weather, big ideas and blank canvases. #Beyond_Belief
— Jenny Sharaf (@JennySharaf) October 9, 2013
@SFMOMA Always inspired by exciting conversations w/ artists in their studios, when ideas flow faster than words can keep up #Beyond_Belief
— Sarah Hotchkiss (@sahotchkiss) October 9, 2013
Q2: Have you ever had a spiritual experience with a work of art?
When asked why they come to museums, many visitors talk about the calming effect of visiting galleries, or the way that artwork can affect them on a highly personal level. For many, museums are a sacred space. With this question, we learned that works of art can help people feel connected to both the world, as well as with their own inner consciousness.
@Jewseum @SFMOMA A lot of our audience come for the spiritual tranquil space AND spiritual nature of our art. Double whammy. #Beyond_Belief
— Asian Art Museum (@asianartmuseum) October 9, 2013
@SFMOMA As a viewer when you experience the moment where you, the work and the creator are now one is incredibly sacred. #Beyond_Belief — Mona (@MonaKhan123) October 9, 2013
@SFMOMA Yes.Seeing Van Gogh's "Starry Night" was breathtaking.Walking into the room,I saw it from some distance,the light from it's darkness
— Stevie Gurr (@steviegurr) October 9, 2013
Q3: Has art ever helped you through a tough time?
This is a very personal question. Several of the pieces in Beyond Belief were created with the influence of a tragedy or trauma. We were humbled by the willingness to share personal challenges, and for the art therapist who piped in to speak about the role of creativity in recovery. Facebook user and art therapist Venus Taylor replied with the following:
Q4: Do creative rituals play a role in your daily life?
Whether you get up early to meditate, keep a sketchbook, or take long walks, there’s no doubt that giving your mind some time to wander is great for unleashing creativity. After all, who can stand to think in straight lines all the time?
Doodling during mtgs counts? RT @Jewseum Q4: Do creative rituals play role in yr daily life? #Beyond_Belief @SFMOMA http://t.co/Nc5yiP2dy0
— jennifer yin (@yinsanity) October 9, 2013
@SFMOMA @Jewseum I paint what I REALLY REALLY REALLY want to paint and that keeps me happy, a gift from God.
— Miche Watkins (@MicheWatkins) October 9, 2013
Creative rituals keep us sane..... or at least as sane as we can be. #Beyond_Belief
— GalleryDaily (@GalleryDaily) October 9, 2013
Q5: What does "spirituality" mean to you?
Living in San Francisco, it is easy to roll your eyes when you hear the word “spiritual,” if only because this is a place that is very accommodating towards many different definitions of what it means. Despite being shown in a Jewish museum and with layers of Jewish interpretation, there is no one answer presented to this complex concept, and our conversation reflects this.
Talking about spirituality in concrete terms can be difficult, if only because it’s so challenging to grapple with in a meaningful way. Some of the questions addressed in Beyond Belief have been talked about for millennia by thought leaders, and yet we still don’t have concrete answers. If there’s one thing to be learned, it’s that the best questions lead to more questions, and despite social media being a playground of popular culture, there's room for this recent iteration of a generations-long human conversation as well.
> Read the full conversation
Image at top: Felix Gonzalez-Torres. Untitled (America #1), 1992. Lightbulbs, porcelain light sockets, and extension cord. Dimensions variable. Collection of Vicki and Kent Logan, fractional and promised gift to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Photo by Ian Reeves.
Kathryn Jaller is New Media Manager at the Contemporary Jewish Museum where she translates visual culture for digital audiences. Willa Koerner is Assistant Manager, Digital Engagement at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, where she brings art and social media together in creative, meaningful ways. In addition to this exhibition, they also have height and cats in common.