Animism is direct experience with invisible energy. Feeling a relationship with an animal or tree is an example of animism.
Artists have often felt the spirit of the inanimate. Sometimes our own art pieces are seen as having their own spirit or life force. This is always the case with my art. I use to refer to my dog portraits as "my dogs". They were no longer merely images of a dog, they were individual spirits in their own form.
It is my belief that art should always have a spirit that is felt by the viewer. There should be more than aesthetic appreciation. This is why abstract or even "ugly" art can be appealing. It is the spirit of the piece that calls to us.
Personally I cannot separate art from animism any more than I can separate nature from animism. It is a way of being in the world.
Read more about animism and Christianity as well as other religions around the world by clicking on the link below.