A native of Southern California, with degrees from UCSB, Princeton Theological Seminary, and the University of Pittsburgh, Jeff Brackett has a long history of examining the intersections between art and spiritual practices. During grad school, he lived in India for three years doing intensive language and culture studies. Jeff is an award-winning Religious Studies professor, who recently opted for early retirement from Ball State University (Muncie, Indiana, USA), where he taught courses about Hinduism, Buddhism, and Religion and Pop Culture. Retirement from academia has enabled Jeff to pursue art full-time.
Jeff began his intensive art practice in late 2016, and by 2017 he was showing his work in local venues, as well as in juried art shows. Since then, he has won numerous awards and his work has appeared in several art magazines.
His 2021 solo art exhibition included several Buddhist-themed pieces, integrating academic and personal perspectives on Buddhist teachings. He has also published an article about his journey into art, “Mandalas, Meditation, and Mindful Mark-Making,” where he replied to the question of how spirituality plays a role in his art (“Mandalas, Meditation, and Mindful Mark-Making”; 2018, in Society for the Arts in Religious and Theological Studies).
Jeff is now working on a book, Zen and the Artful Buddhist: Asperger’s, Art, and Academia. Prior to learning of his Asperger Syndrome profile in late 2020, the core of the book project was comparing how the term “spiritual” is deployed quite differently by religious studies scholars and art professionals. Asperger’s added a new layer that is both exciting and complex. For Jeff, Asperger’s presents itself as an ability for extreme focus, which translates into the skill to do long stints of repetitive line-work, his main form of artwork.
On his blog, he writes about the intersections of Buddhism, art, and life as a (now former) religious studies professor with Asperger’s Syndrome.
When he is not working on his art, he enjoys playing disc golf, cycling, reading (especially comics and graphic novels), fishing, and other outdoor activities.