In answer to the question of why he started an art magazine, Richard says:
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.'
More information about Richard Whittaker's work can be found at:
works & conversations online: www.conversations.org,
Interview with Richard Whittaker on ServiceSpace: www.servicespace.org.