Artwork has often been used to teach dhamma in a way that is easily relateable in the history of Buddhism. (Thank you @Coemgenu for pointing this out in the Dhamma Doodles thread!).
Nowadays, many monks and nuns still use their inspiration in the dhamma to create artworks but that is mainly for their own use, not for teaching. So this thread is for
- exploring dhamma teachers who use artwork for teaching activities; what kind of art do they use, how do they teach, etc., and
- sharing of personal experiences if anyone has participated in “artistic retreats” before.
Art can be a good way to reach out to people who find dhamma talks and / or sutta studies too dry and passive to be pay attention and be inspired. People learn by different means and engaging the right creative hemisphere of the brain might be useful for many.
One monastery I have visited that focuses on teaching by art is Sunnataram - pictures here - in Australia. They have many different art installations in various parts of their extensive gardens, symbolizing abstract teachings like the 5 aggregates, dependent origination, etc. During retreats, the head monk uses them to explain points of dhamma, and retreatants can help build new artwork during work/dhamma service periods.
Here’s a link to more photos of one of their retreats, but you have to scroll down quite a bit to see their 5 aggregates installation (colored gates).