American Artists Engage Ancient Monastic Practice: Ingest Only Beer for 14 Days

Posted by on May 4, 2012 in Art Monastery Italia, Blog, News, Press, Process | No Comments
American Artists Engage Ancient Monastic Practice: Ingest Only Beer for 14 Days


American Artists Engage Ancient Monastic Practice: Ingest Only Beer for 14 Days

In their investigation of secular monasticism, a pair of American artists living and working in monastery of art in Italy will fast for 14 days, following the monastic practices of monks who came before them. For two weeks, these artists will eat no food. They will drink only water and liquid bread (beer)!

Although it sounds like a frat house stunt, their intentions are high. “The Art Monastery Project is a radical experiment social sculpture. It poses the question: what happens when you apply monastic tradition to contemporary art making and creativity? This fast is a further investigation of that question.” says Art Monastery co-founder and Executive Director Betsy McCall.

The brainchild of San Francisco artists McCall and Christopher Fülling, the Art Monastery Project has been an American non-profit arts organization since 2008. The vision of the project is to cultivate personal and cultural transformation through art, community, and contemplation. The pilot site is Art Monastery Italia and takes the form of a year round intentional community of (mostly American) artists living in the rural hills near Rome, Italy, producing art in a wide range of media, hosting visiting artists, and running workshops and retreats.

Following in the footsteps of traditional Italian monks in Germany practicing beer fasts for up to 46 days, two of the Artmonks will drink only beer and water from May 7 to 21 and plan to spend the time they would have been cooking, eating, and cleaning, cultivating other disciplines. McCall, a visual artist, will meditate for two hours each day and spend another two hours painting. Charles Darius, Music Director and CFO/Controller, will spend the time honing his already professional trumpet skills. The pair will drink 4 to 5 pints of beer each day. Meanwhile the other half of the Artmonk team, Artistic Director Liz Maxwell and Community Production Manager Molly Freedenberg will fast from beer, abstaining from alcohol consumption altogether, while maintaining a normal food intake.

Daily blog posts documenting their experience will be posted at https://www.artmonastery.org/category/blog.

All this is done with the intention to connect to monasticism, to examine everyday habits, and to experiment with emptiness on every level. Longtime smokers Darius and Freedenberg will intensify this purification by also taking it as an opportunity to quit smoking.

This year marks the first of an 8-year Monastic Cycle for the project, each year investigating the themes presented by the Liturgy of the Hours (the Gregorian chant rituals prayed by various western monks and nuns every three hours throughout the day and night). This year’s theme is Vigils, which is sung at midnight and investigates darkness, death, the void, the mystery, unknowing, and… emptiness.

For  more information, please contact Betsy McCall at betsy@artmonastery.org or call Nathan Rosquist at 510.520.4747.


Betsy McCall, Executive Director, Art Monastery Project


Italy +39 333.153.7353

USA +1 415.644.5096


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