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Integral Art Center


Welcome everyone to the official weblog of Integral Institute's Integral Art Center. I’m Matt Rentschler, poet, art philosopher, and a director at the center. I’ll be managing this blog and its content, providing you with regular updates on art center happenings, as well as Integral commentaries on the arts and the aesthetics of living.

I’ve used Integral Art as both an artist and as someone writing about the arts, so allow me to briefly outline why AQAL is relevant to artists and viewers, and how Integral Art might address some of the major challenges facing aesthetics, today. In that vein, I should note that the phrase “Integral Art” is really just a shorthand for “Integral Aesthetics,” or an AQAL approach to artistry, art interpretation, and the art world, in general.

With Integral Art, artists can better integrate the Muse with their daily lives and avoid going completely crazy in the process. Even if craziness contributes to the greatness of art (as Deida would argue), a little craziness goes a long way, and too many artists have famously lost all touch with balance. If we don't have some kind of support system in place, this creative Force can mop the floor with us. AQAL not only helps you anticipate the Muse and give it shape but also helps clean up what is often a messy creative aftermath. For instance, the quadrants can contextualize the creative process for any artist: I can keep track of the original intention motivating my artwork; the labor or physical actions required by me in order to carry that out; who my audience is and what kind of market exists for this kind of product/message; and what technoeconomic means are available for me to produce and distribute the artwork.

Not only that, but quadrants, levels, lines, states, and types become a common language for artists across different artforms. When an illustrator describes a state-experience to me, or a creative block, or a business problem, I can relate and speak to all of those issues. Obviously, there are important details unique to their artform that need to be acknowledged, but there are remarkable similarities, too.

With Integral Art, and especially an Integral Methodological Pluralism, art scholars can actually make room for and respect the work of others, instead of distorting or ignoring it. It will always be necessary to specialize in a given methodology, but not to absolutize it. For example, the current hot topic in the field is Darwinian aesthetics, or evolutionary psychology as it's applied to the arts. So you have books with titles like Survival of the Prettiest, Homo Aestheticus, and Madame Bovary's Ovaries (my personal favorite). These approaches certainly have truths that ought to be included in any Integral picture of the arts, but, being primarily Upper-Right approaches, theirs is only 1/4th of the story.

As a scholar, AQAL has helped me situate, and therefore accept, the partial truths of virtually every major approach and school in aesthetics. In fact, my next paper has an appendix that lists these numerous approaches, basically to say “Integral Art makes room for all of these.” (This was inspired by Sean Esbjorn-Hargens' similar catalog of approaches to Ecology.) From a practical standpoint, I use AQAL as a methodology because it works: it allows me to simultrack these different approaches, the phenomena they enact, and the explanatory frameworks that result, all in a way that’s incredibly coherent.

With Integral Art, critics can effectively include depth-discernment in art interpretation. As the blogosphere asserts itself, everyone has literally become a critic. So the challenge to criticism, and art journalism, is introducing some notion of compassionate ranking in order to determine what are more true and less partial interpretations. To borrow Ken's idea of each perspective getting a vote in Integral Politics, one could say that, in Integral Art, each perspective gets a point. If you give a Red response where you only take one perspective (namely, your own), you get one point. But if you give an Orange response, you get 3 points, because you transcend and include the perspectives of those previous altitudes. And so on. The same holds true for the quadrants. What does the artist think about the artwork? What does the artwork actually say? And what do we or other people think about the artwork? If you can take each of those into consideration, while acknowledging and holding the space for an entire spectrum of aesthetic responses, you’re racking up the perspective points.

Finally, with Integral Art, any layperson or casual art lover can recognize that aesthetic judgment (which unfolds as one's very own aesthetic intelligence) is an intrinsic aspect of the self, and that everything from sports to clothing to cuisine to furniture can serve as avenues for genuine aesthetic insights. The point is, you don't have to be a capital-A artist in order to find Beauty or the Sublime or Kalos (which, more often than not, finds you). Beauty awaits in every sunset, every city square, every beloved. There is such a thing as the everyday lyricism or luminosity of our lives, and that to live your life as art is to live it truthfully and with integrity, where your walk matches your talk in an integral union. What would your actions look like if they were a work of art to the world? How would you engage other people? What creative novelty will you add in this moment’s interpretive freedom, as Eros steamrolls those choices into the habits and grooves of greater tomorrows?

There are still so many topics and areas to acquaint ourselves with, and we at the Integral Art Center will do it one post, threaded discussion, and file at a time. We’d love for you to join this Integral conversation centered around one of life’s Great Questions: Of what is, what is beautiful?

The world awaits our deepening, widening, truly integral answers….

Published Saturday, April 14, 2021 3:30 PM by wrench



donkeyhoty said:


i came across the new blog here via a visit to your new fishwrapper site. was trying to check in and see where you're at.

anything coming along these pipes in the days and weeks to come?


June 25, 2021 12:11 PM

psychicchild said:

beautiful, deep, and enlivening intro -- a marvelous start to your managing the art blog site.

love and hugs dude,
michael s.
July 1, 2021 4:17 PM


What you've written helps me feel more at ease about personally sustaining comfortable balance and understanding amidst my aesthetic progress.
July 19, 2021 6:49 PM
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