Spirituality of Art – JR Butler (Part 2 of 2)

JR Butler is a muralist, sculptor, potter, painter, digital artist…you name it! He is also a good friend of mine and an integral part of the Siler City and Chatham County arts community. I recently asked him for his thoughts on creativity and his creative process. Here’s a continuation of what he had to say…

JR Butler welcoming visitors to his NC Arts Incubator exhibit, 2018. Photo by Barbara Hengstenberg
Digital art by JR Butler

I barely make it by some days fighting poverty and mental illness but art is the one thing above all others that rejuvenates my desire to live! It is what raises some mortals up to a higher understanding. Just to clarify though, I am not saying being an artist will make you a god. No. But it does have a spirituality about it that I believe can bring people closer to their vision of enlightenment. Consider also that aside from the act of creation, it is also one way to live on past your days on this physical plane. Living on not only in the memories of family and close friends but in those whom your art has touched. For a person who doesn’t feel they have much value, this is a treasure that no one can take.

Sculpture by JR Butler
Sculpture by JR Butler

I feel that we are approaching an exciting place for art which only makes me want to continue on this path even longer. The addiction gets stronger the longer I go. What I see though is a younger generation of artists who are hard wired to do something entirely different than most generations of artists and I plan to stick around for this ride into the future of art and ultimately humanity. It is upon us, friends. I see things I had only dreamed of in the work of young artists. Art is a language that has the ability to transcend all differences and I see new artists speaking that language with more fluency everyday through social media and other outlets. I’m so excited with all the new ideas about living well and enjoying the arts and humanity with less boundaries. And for this I will continue to savor every breath I take even when I feel suffocated. It’s what makes me who I am and allows me to take my art to those who understand and need it. It is for me, but it is also for them. The fact that some get what I’m conveying encourages me that there are people like myself in the world. Sometimes I wish there were more like me even if some social ideals may disagree with having more people with mental issues. I’ve got news, you’re not excluded! I don’t care who you are. Please recognize that we all have different struggles and try to respect and help each other. That’s part of the message I am getting the most from today’s youth, too, globally! I want to stick around for the dismantling of outdated ideas, for people who are looking at the creative possibilities for the future but recognizing some of the practicality of older technologies and ideas from our global history as a guide to more informed solutions for a healthier future for all that exists on this plane.

Detached by JR Butler
Mother by JR Butler

I am all about continuing to learn to evolve and hopefully provide an outlet as well as a voice for others who share similar mental health and social struggles. I want to have a voice for myself that hopefully helps others to find their voices. I advocate for the kind-hearted people who are marginalized or struggling, I advocate for the starving artists who create for their own well-being and the well-being of others. I advocate for the mentally ill, who struggle to continue on despite their challenges, as well as those who’ve lost the battle trying because they were not able to get what they needed here. I advocate for those people who try to help others with the knowledge that there will be times when all their efforts may not change the outcome. I advocate for those who find themselves in poverty or chaos who strive even though the odds are stacked against them. I want the world to know these people and start to recognize their worth in this world just as I want to be recognized by my worth as a human being — a worth that has nothing to do with our financial status but is founded on mutual respect for one another as fellow thinking and feeling entities.

These are all things that shape me as an artist but also as a human being. For me, they are one in the same, my life is just as much my art as any physical object I create.

Pottery by JR Butler

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