Happy Birthday AMP!
First, the facts.
On March 24, 2008, the Art Monastery Project legally incorporated in the State of California.
Later, that same date was retroactively acknowledged as the date the Art Monastery achieved federal tax-exempt status as a public charity.
That was five years ago.
The Project has been situated in three different locations in Italy
hosted 84 visiting artists and artmonks-in-residence
organized approximately 284 cultural events
including 4 Artmonk Retreats
with a total estimated audience of 24,000 people
This could not have been achieved without our
88 residential volunteers
4 dogs (two of whom emigrated to the USA), 6 chickens (one of whom survived two foxes in the henhouse), and 8 cats (but just one who understood English perfectly).
The Project has survived major crises and heartbreaking failures. But the Art Monastery has more than survived. It has touched people’s lives.
In the early days I used to say, “Just as long as the Art Monastery happens, that’s all I want. If it stands up and then totally falls down and never gets up again, that’s ok. I just want it to have been something before it fails.” There were a series of different moments when other people said to me: “Hey, the Art Monastery is real. We did it!” We hosted our first artist. We put on our first concert. We organized our first in itinerant spectacle. We signed our first lease. We won our first grant. We facilitated our first retreat. We got hired for our first festival. We received our first email that said: “The Art Monastery changed my life.”
And now I really feel it.
On a deep level.
The Art Monastery is bigger than any of its co-founders.
In 2010 Liz and Nathan designed a really beautiful 4-day Vision Retreat for the 7-person team in Labro. One of the exercises they led us through was a guided visualization: Meet the Spirit of the Art Monastery. We traveled through our imaginations to meet the essence of the Project 20 years in the future. In my vision, I came to the room where the soul of the Project was. I started to open the door and it flew out of my hand and off its hinges. Inside there was an outrageous fiery power, a feminine 22 year old, writhing and seething and glowing, a golden dragon. She yelled, “Mom! You have to let me out! I am so much more than you think I am!” My jaw dropped. My heart exploded. I felt the love that I can only imagine a mother feeling for her daughter. I felt sweet pride and profound well wishes for her. I was floored by her beauty and mystical enormity. I wanted to see her fly, I wanted to see her in her splendor. And I felt afraid of her. Her power was terrifying and violent. She was much, much bigger than me.
I bow to the great dragon teacher that is the Art Monastery Project. In deep reverence, I thank her for all the ways that she has shaped me. She brought me to meditation, which has affected how I breathe, how I paint, how I move through the world. She brought me tears of joy and pain and unending growth. She has taught me more about the miracle strength and otherworldly brilliance of the human heart. She has introduced me to the most phenomenal people: world wanderers, music makers, adventurers, teachers, and mirror-holder-uppers. She brought me the people who have become my family.
The Art Monastery is a powerful being. She reached backward through time to shape me into the kind of person who could play a part in birthing the Art Monastery. I thank her for that. And I thank all the other co-parents.
In some ways it’s silly to try to list the co-parents. But I’d like to at least mention by name those who donated with unreasonable generosity their love and intelligence and hard work and resilience, who worked day and night and lived in Italy as part of the staff and are, in my estimation, co-creators of the Project. There are so many who gave so much, but these people worked in exchange for room and board, though plenty of the time there was no heat or no hot water or a hundred other things that would have been reasonable grounds to walk away. Instead, these people chose to respond to the ugly and brutal world by creating beauty and tenderness. These people are change makers.
Flavia Sabina Molea (now Flavia Baker)
Thank you, thank you.
How can I ever thank you?
In celebration of our fifth birthday, please enjoy these three downloads, all live performances at Art Monastery Italia.