Ever dreamed of walking into an art exhibit, wishing you could interact with the artist and the art itself? What if you could go one step further and gain insight into the inspiration behind the artist’s work, and how it applies to your own life? Well, visual artist Jacqueline Claire has done just that!
Jacqueline, an artist driven to uplift her community, brings people together through her paintings. Jacqueline comes from a long line of creators, currently lives in Texas, and is a third generation Baha’i who has devoted her life and career to exploring the role of art and faith in elevating her audiences, encouraging them to access the mystical realities.
Jacqueline coined the term “Spiritual Realism” to describe her work as a visual artist. Spiritual Realism describes her own deep connection to the inner forces that guide her creative process. The exploration of Spiritual Realism in Jacqueline’s work focuses on humanity’s divine purpose, and our ability as individuals to reflect and refine how this manifests in material reality.
Although Jacqueline does not consider herself a conceptual artist, her art is very connected to her own expression of faith, sometimes inspired directly by the Baha’i writings. Just as the Baha’i writings suggest, painting has become a means of meditation and prayer for Jacqueline:
I rejoice to hear that thou takest pains with thine art, for in this wonderful new age, art is worship. The more thou strivest to perfect it, the closer wilt thou come to God. What bestowal could be greater than this, that one’s art should be even as the act of worshipping the Lord? That is to say, when thy fingers grasp the paintbrush, it is as if thou wert at prayer in the Temple. – Abdu’l-Baha, from a tablet translated from the Persian.
Jacqueline recently completed a tour called Awaken to Your Life – As a Spiritual Journey in the United States, her exhibit comprised of a series of paintings based on one of Baha’u’llah’s most mystical books, The Seven Valleys. In The Seven Valleys, Baha’u’llah penned a poetic metaphor for the various stages a seeker of truth must encounter and pass through in order to find truth and become closer to God—the valleys of search, love, knowledge, unity, contentment, wonderment, and the final “valley of true poverty and absolute nothingness.” Jacqueline uses her series of paintings to introduce her audiences to the ocean of Baha’u’llah’s writings as a source of inspiration, wisdom and a framework for living. Her exhibit also offers a humble reminder that life is full of ups and downs, and we must always draw on the Creator for comfort, courage and strength.
In her interview with Cloud9, Jacqueline talks extensively about her uniquely designed exhibits, which include an interactive icebreaker that encourages participants to engage with one another and her work, along with the inspiration behind it. You can learn about her interactive exhibits in her three-part BahaiTeachings.org series titled An Artist’s Interactive Approach to the Seven Valleys.
In her exhibit, Jacqueline explores some of the unique aspects of the Baha’i teachings, which she incorporates into these interactive spaces. They include consultation and meaningful conversations; enhancing our understanding of the depth of the Baha’i writings and how they apply to our daily lives; and developing a daily habit of prayer, reflection and action:
Immerse yourselves in the ocean of My words, that ye may unravel its secrets, and discover all the pearls of wisdom that lie hid in its depths. – Baha’u’llah, The Most Holy Book, p. 85.
Jacqueline encourages Cloud9 listeners to create, foster and nurture similar artistic spaces, so they can bring to life their own talents and the talents of those with creative capacity in their communities. She invites listeners to create in whatever way feels natural to them, with the intention of bringing people together to elevate the station of the arts—and to use art as a means to meditate and connect with the creator:
Arts, crafts and sciences uplift the world of being, and are conducive to its exaltation. Knowledge is as wings to man’s life, and a ladder for his ascent. Its acquisition is incumbent upon everyone. The knowledge of such sciences, however, should be acquired as can profit the peoples of the earth, and not those which begin with words and end with words …
In truth, knowledge is a veritable treasure for man, and a source of glory, of bounty, of joy, of exaltation, of cheer and gladness unto him. Happy the man that cleaveth unto it, and woe betide the heedless. – Baha’u’llah, Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, pp. 26-27.
Suggesting that art helps us acknowledge our commonality more than our differences, Jacqueline also emphasizes the importance of recognizing the divine, mystical forces behind all art, which can lead us into collective action and a unity of vision, informed by the teachings of Baha’u’llah.
We close our Cloud9 interview by learning about what’s next for Jacqueline, which includes a series of paintings inspired by the Bicentenary of the Bab, the herald and forerunner of the Baha’i Faith, as well as the completion of her illustrated children’s devotional book.
To learn more about Jacqueline’s work and interactive exhibits, visit www.jacquelineclaireart.com
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