FRED DE SAM LAZARO, guest anchor: For much of modern times, it seems, artists have parked their spirituality outside the studio, outside the gallery. Our next story takes us to a retreat in Santa Fe, New Mexico, intended to bring back what one organizer calls "the intimate relationship between art and faith."
Judy Valente has our report.
JUDY VALENTE: Santa Fé: a city whose spiritual heritage dates back to the Native Americans and Spanish missionaries; a place of stunning natural beauty -- home to more than 250 artists' galleries; a city where the spiritual and artistic come together easily.
Each summer, hundreds of artists from across the country journey here to St. John's College, in the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, for what's called the Glen Workshop -- a weeklong gathering sponsored by the literary journal "Image."
Calligraphers . . .
KAREN HESSEL (Calligrapher): I was looking over some different verses that are meaningful to me.
VALENTE: Visual artists . . .
JULIA HENNING (Sculptor): I think mosaic-making is a good metaphor for putting together bits and pieces. It's a metaphor for how we do that in life
VALENTE: Poets . . .
UNIDENTIFIED POET (reading): The non-physical saintliness of a real person in whom God was.
VALENTE: Songwriters . . .
UNIDENTIFIED SONGWRITER (performing): This is my Father's world...
VALENTE: Men and women who say their art is also a spiritual pursuit.
RACHEL MORRIS (Calligrapher): This is actually the Word of God written in six different scripts.
VALENTE: Ginger Geyer teaches the workshop on mosaics.
GINGER GEYER (Mosaics Instructor, Glen Workshop): There's just a lot of parallels between the creative process and spiritual development. You know, it's that mysterious thing where you are inspired and you don't know where it comes from. And you can't totally credit yourself even if your skills are way up there. And so the process of making something is very much like leading the spiritual life where you don't know what's coming next. It's kind of just a big fat leap of faith.
VALENTE: Most of these artists don't create traditional religious pieces, like statues or crucifixes, but say they see themselves as modern-day bearers of a long tradition linking faith and art.
GREG WOLFE (Coordinator, Glen Workshop): The relationship between art and faith has always been intimate except for this brief interlude in the modern era when people thought that religion was a kind of wish fulfillment or escapism and therefore couldn't create great art. So we are trying to bring those two things back together again.
VALENTE: Though most of the attendees are Christian, this year's gathering, for the first time, brought together artists and scholars from the Muslim and Jewish faiths as well.
The goal of this workshop is to show how the beauty of art can open a pathway to deeper understanding between people of different faiths.
Mr. WOLFE: Each of the three religious traditions is deeply rooted in a vision of beauty and a sense of God as an artist, as a creator and as a maker. And I think one of the great, one of the most powerful things about beauty is that it opens us up, whereas sometimes discussion about morality or doctrine can clamp us down.
VALENTE: This year's interfaith theme attracted Sufi scholar Jamal Rahman and the Jewish writer. Rodger Kamenetz. The two men quickly became friends, finding common ground in their appreciation for a 13th-Century Muslim poet.
RODGER KAMENETZ (Writer): I'm a big fan of Rumi. I love Rumi. And, he inspires me. So I just go wherever something inspires me.
JAMAL RAHMAN (Muslim Sofi Scholar): He's a man of good taste. He loves Rumi.
Mr. KAMENETZ: Of course. And I hope Rumi loves me.
Mr. RAHMAN: I personally feel that when there is a connection to beauty, whatever it is, whatever the form of beauty is, there really is a connection to one's soul.
Mr. WOLFE: Art is something that religious people sometimes have a nervousness about. It doesn't always seem to maybe tow the strict doctrinal line. So for them to come to a place where others are working in faith in making things is a great reassurance to them.
TIM BOTTS (Calligraphy Instructor, talking to Workshop participants): So our quote that we're wrestling here with is by Leo Tolstoy: "Every work of art results in one who receives it entering in to communion with the one who produced the art." And one of the reasons why I chose that quote is because of the word "communion," because one of the things that is so special about this kind of time is that we as visual artists so oftentimes work isolated.