Ann Cunningham has been a sculptor for more than forty years. Her work is featured in numerous public and private collections such as The Denver Art Museum, The Museum of Outdoor Arts, the Colorado School for the Deaf and the Blind, and the conventions of the National Federation of the Blind. Ever since she can recall, Ann has expressed herself through art. Although she has years of experience in various art forms, sculpting remains her passion. She loves working with archetypal imagery—myths, fairy tales, and dreams—because it promotes dialog and shared experience among diverse groups of people. She creates pieces that engage the viewer’s mind and heart, fostering a sense of connection, mystery, and excitement. Sculpting, exhibiting, and teaching have given her the opportunity to see things from different perspectives. Her work with the deaf and blind communities has given her a whole new world to explore, one filled with subtle nuance that enriches her conscious and subconscious minds with images that she wouldn’t have been able to understand otherwise.
Q. What experiences put you on your spiritual path?
A: I connect to spirit through my artwork. Art has been a constant thread throughout my life. For many years, I searched for a way to contribute through art but had trouble finding it. Process art seemed limiting because it did not take me beyond myself. Then, one day I stopped at an intersection and thought, I need to get clarity or I’ll be stuck here. After that realization, I quit drinking and started showing my art in public. While hanging a picture for a Naropa exhibit, I asked, “Could someone who is blind understand this picture?” This inquiry lead to my creating a show called “By Touch Alone” in which blind and sighted artists from around the country exhibited their work. As I displayed a blind artist’s piece—warped cardboard that I pulled out of a dilapidated box—I questioned whether it was acceptable art. Then I remembered to close my eyes and feel the work. It immediately transported me to the beach in a way that was more powerful than any picture I’d ever seen. In that moment, I knew my purpose was to create multi-sensory art.
Q. What is the greatest challenge facing society?
A: There isn’t one. We are living in extraordinary times and are doing exactly what we need to do. In his book, Voices of the First Day: Awakening in the Aboriginal Dreamtime, Robert Lawlor describes a 70,000 year cycle split into two time periods: the matriarchal and patriarchal. In the matriarchal time, the seed germinates, the flower blooms, and the fruit sets. In the patriarchal time, the time we are living in, the fruit grows and ripens and gets ready to drop to begin the cycle again. This dropped fruit can either smother or nourish the seed. Our excess consumerism is the rotting fruit smothering us a bit. However, we will find nourishment because we have many more cycles to go.
For the rest of the interview, please check out the book, Seek The Lover Within: Lessons from 50 Spiritual Leaders.