Gallery Location: Spirituality and the Ethics of Inspiration Tour (4 works)

Embark on an introspective journey through the intricate realm of spirituality as expressed in the world of art. This tour delves into the nuanced relationship between artists’ spiritual inspirations and their ethical implications. Throughout history, art has been a profound medium through which individuals explore and express their spiritual beliefs and experiences. However, as cultures have intertwined through colonization and globalization, diverse spiritual symbols have been transported with everything else, blurring the line between genuine inspiration and cultural appropriation.

Artists, in their quest for profound expression, often tap into spiritual symbols and philosophies that may not be indigenous to their own cultural or personal backgrounds. While some do so with deep respect and understanding, aiming to bridge gaps and celebrate shared human experiences, others may unintentionally overlook the depth and sanctity of these symbols, leading to questions of appropriation. While providing an opportunity to explore spiritual trends in modern American art, this tour also challenges viewers to reflect on these complexities: Is it possible to pinpoint where inspiration ends and appropriation begins? How can artists mindfully engage with spiritual symbols outside their own tradition? Join us in exploring these pivotal questions as we navigate the delicate balance between reverence, representation, respect, and inspiration in the realm of spiritual modern art.

—Callum Tresnan ‘23
View Spirituality and the Ethics of Inspiration Self-Guided Tour Card

Please note: The museum invited Stanford students to develop themed tours that reflect their perspectives and interpretation of collection works. Each student perspective expresses the individual point of view of its author.