Art and Spirit: A Neuroanthropology of 
Traditional and Modern Art

[Updated:  21 July 2003]

Welcome to Charlie's Art and Spirit page.  This will provide an index for the various papers he has written on the relations between brain, culture, art and spirit.  In particular, these papers offer explanations for such questions as: Why is traditional art almost always abstract?  Why is most traditional art spiritually iconic?  How do some cultures use art as a portal into alternative worlds of experience?

Charlie Laughlin, "Concepts Melt Away 

in the Crucible of Reality,"  watercolor on paper, 1998

Please feel free to download these papers (in .rtf format without illustrations,  in html format with all sorts of colorful illustrations):

Art and Spirit (early version) .  This is one of the original art and spirit papers.

Abstraction and the Artistic Brain .  This paper discusses the questions:  Why is traditional art so often both abstract and spiritually evocative?  What is the relationship between modern art and spirit?  How can we model abstraction so that we may better understand art-as-symbol cross-culturally?  This is the .rtf format version without illustrations.

Abstraction and the Artistic Brain .  This is the above paper in html with colored illustrations.

Abstraction and the Artistic Brain   This is the final published version of this paper found in the electronic journal Sitestreet .  This is a hyperlink directly to the journal's site.

Art and Spirit .  This is the more recent paper that discusses the relations between art and spirit, with a special reference to the way Navajo art is used in healing ceremonies to evoke and channel power (without the colorful illustrations).

Art and Spirit This is the above paper in html and replete with colorful illustrations.

I would recommend that you either read the HTML versions of these papers, or download them and read them later.  They have all the illustrations that the .rtf versions do not, but they may take a long time to download.

Return home , or to the selected articles page.