Works & Conversations

An online magazine founded by Parabola Magazine’s west coast editor, Richard Whittaker, Works & Conversations focuses on a deeper kind of art exploration via interviews with a wide range of artists. View full details at

Why start an art magazine?

"A central motivation was my dismay at what I found missing in the art world as I began exploring it in 1980. [Before I'd simply done art on my own.] Nowhere did I find any resonance in the writing of critics and art theorists for what Bruce Nauman expressed (with considerable ambivalence) in an early piece: "The true artist helps the world by expressing mystic truths."

Such an elevated thought could not be taken seriously in 1980. In 1967, the ground for such a proclamation was already very shaky. Was it a joke? And yet my own experiences in the face of beauty (especially of light) were such that I felt compelled to find a way of honoring them. Surely, the experience of the presence of the numinous had not gotten old. It had only gone missing somehow. What I found lacking in art world discourse was not difficult to find when I turned to artists themselves. A common understanding was often near at hand. And here was the material I wanted to help get into circulation through the public space of a magazine.

Since then, my focus has widened to include broader examples of the transformative power of creativity used in the service of a greater good. This possibility is not limited to artists. AK Coomaraswamy's formulation, taken from his study of traditional societies, puts it well: "The artist is not a special person, but each person is a special kind of artist."

Listen to an interview by writer and music educator Gail Needleman



So you work a long time to find a natural way of speaking the words and to know which ones should be stressed and finding a group consensus about how it moves and a way of beginning together that doesn’t rely on a leader. The person leading this workshop had a rule. If you were the first to enter twice, you had to wait. So anybody who had a tendency to rush the moment of silence between the verses learned to see that and hold back. The group as a whole would try to find that moment when the silence ended and then come in together. After doing that for several days, at one point, the words really came in. I really heard the words of this psalm in a way that I’ve never heard before.