Research 2010

Unlike the natural sciences, spiritual science is still developing its research methodology. Threefold's Researcher in Residence program provides researchers the opportunity to dedicate substantial time to high-level collaborative investigations in the etheric realm.

Frank Chester

2010 Researcher in Residence

The 2010 Threefold Researcher in Residence was artist, sculptor and geometrician Frank Chester, who worked with a team of eleven research fellows at Threefold from September 19 to October 30, 2010.

The Research Fellowship was an exploration of the elements and the ethers through geometric forms. Using lectures, studio sessions, and group discussions, Frank led the research fellows through a process of creating and transforming complex geometric forms. The methodology consists of transforming geometric forms by applying the four elements and the four ethers. When applied to Platonic forms, the outcome is known and can be predicted; when applied to new and unexplored forms, the outcome is not known in advance. In either case, the methodology is a fruitful vehicle for learning and discovery, and these exercises in “scientific art” brought the 2010 research fellows to a direct experience of the role of movement, metamorphosis, polarities, and intervals in art, life and science.

Fellows entered the program on one of two tracks: In the Apprenticeship Track, fellows worked on projects assigned by Frank Chester. Fellows in the Research Track brought an existing project or question that could be moved forward using the research methodology. Fellows in both tracks received intensive, hands-on instruction in the methodology. They then had the opportunity to apply those methods to previously uninvestigated forms, with completely unpredictable results. Through their guided experience of one researcher’s methods, the fellows developed unrealized capacities and unexpected insights.

Images of Frank Chester and his research fellows at work in Threefold's Red Barn Painting Studio:


The works-in-progress that emerged from the research fellowship became the subject of Art as Research and Scientific Inquiry as a Creative Act, an exhibition at Threefold Auditorium that ran through December 17, 2010.


The Research Fellowship and the symposium Art as Research and Scientific Inquiry as a Creative Act were supported by the Henry Barnes Fund for Anthroposophical Research, which is administered by the North American Collegium of the School for Spiritual Science.

The Book of Lambspring

This stop-motion animation film was created by research fellows Daniel Wall and Simeon Amstutz as an investigation into art as a research form. The film is based on a 16th-century alchemical text by Nicolas Barnaud that describes a process of individuation or becoming. It depicts the first of fifteen "plates" (images supported by a brief text), in which the alchemist sets out on his initial journey in acquainting himself with the collective unconscious.

Daniel and Simeon aimed to bring to life, through a more contemporary and light hearted means, an interpretation of this text as relevant to art as a vessel of research and study.

The film is made up of 1,500 photographs taken completely in sequence.


A Research Manifesto

At the 1924 Christmas Foundation Conference, Rudolf Steiner placed spiritual scientific research at the center of the work and mission of anthroposophy. In 1926, Threefold Farm in Spring Valley, New York, was founded as a living laboratory for spiritual science in social threefolding, biodynamic farming, and the arts. Our mission was codified in 1965, when the Threefold Educational Foundation was chartered by the State of New York Education Department “to establish, conduct, operate and maintain conferences, programs of research and adult education in all fields of human endeavor emphasizing the principles and methods enunciated by Rudolf Steiner.”

We recognize that research is not a luxury, it is a necessity—life itself depends on it. However, research, like any living thing, requires a convergence of essential elements in appropriate amounts. These elements include: qualified researchers carrying worthy questions; time and space in which to do research, and means for researchers to live on; and a social and physical setting that is supportive of the researchers’ work. In short, what is urgently needed is for qualified researchers to be paired with appropriate institutional, social and financial support.

Over the past year, Threefold Educational Center has consciously acted on its task as an anthroposophical institution, which is to create and foster the conditions necessary for spiritual scientific research to take place. A series of conferences hosted by Threefold have brought together interested parties from all over North America and Europe, in part to investigate and discuss the nature and meaning of such research in the past and going forward. A community of researchers and a constellation of questions have been identified. We have developed our physical facilities to create appropriate spaces for working, meeting, exhibiting and performing, a process that continues as new needs and opportunities arise.

A major step in this process was the creation in 2010 of the Threefold Researcher in Residence program. Our first Researcher in Residence, artist and geometrician Frank Chester, worked with a team of eleven research fellows at Threefold from September 19 to October 30. Their work culminated in an exhibition at Threefold Auditorium, “Art as Research and Scientific Inquiry as a Creative Act.” The exhibit’s opening coincided with a weekend Symposium on Anthroposophical Research, co-sponsored by the Collegium of the North American School of Spiritual Science and Threefold.

As the Threefold Researcher in Residence program takes shape and evolves, a continuous dialogue with the Collegium of the School of Spiritual Science is intended to ensure that our work harmonizes with the Collegium’s efforts in the same direction.