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The Home of Evolutioneers

Arts majors more in touch with spirituality

Alexander Astin, co-director of the UCLA study, said "religious commitment" was defined by several criteria, including how important students said spirituality was in their lives, how involved they were in some sort of religious practice, how much spiritual angst they experience, and to what extent they were o­n a spiritual quest.

"By which we mean they are searching for meaning and purpose, actively searching to try to make meaning out of their lives," Astin said, adding that he was surprised by survey results from fine arts majors. Forty-three percent of art majors are engaged in a spiritual quest, compared to 23 percent of computer science majors and 19 percent of physical science majors, the UCLA survey found.

More than 25 percent of art students expressed a high level of spiritual distress or angst, compared with 15 percent of business majors, and 10 percent of computer majors.

"I'm not o­n a quest," LaGesse said. "This is just how I am."

Still, Astin said, fine arts majors appear to be more in touch with their spiritual lives than other students are.

"I think that's the nature of a good artist, someone who's aware of what's going o­n in their consciousness and is open to exploring these more ephemeral ... aspects of their life. You're much less likely to find that in the computer science or some other science field," he said.

While Shruti Ganguly, 21, an art and communications major from Oman, insists she's "spiritual, not religious," she admits being fascinated by religion. Maybe that has something to do with her own background: "My father is Hindu, my mother is Christian. I grew up in a Muslim country and after I met the Dalai Lama I wanted to become Buddhist."

Ganguly says she explores religion in her artwork.

"In my art, a lot of it has to do with self exploration. There's some questioning and a lot of it has to do with, like, a spiritual quest kind of thing because I feel like I am trying to find something but I don't know what it is yet," she said.

Jessica Fong, a 21-year-old art and psychology major from Humbolt Park who was raised Roman Catholic but is "not religious," said she thinks art students are actually less religious than students in other departments.

"I know more engineering majors that are practicing Christians. They're devout every Sunday or whatever their day of service is," Fong said. "It's not that we're more spiritual. It's just that we have to deal with those things in the work we create."

While he doesn't believe in God or have any use for organized religion, 22-year-old Sebastian Millon, an art major from Arizona, said he still experiences "something" through his artwork.

"When you go to the zoo and you're looking at the animals and just realize the intricacies of everything around you, I mean . . . it's hard to define, but I definitely feel something spiritual," Millon said. "I see it in the world. There's something going o­n. It's just hard to define."


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