Religion and Arts News and Events

Nashville: A Pandemic Observed Event

About the Exhibit

Virtual Exploration of Nashville: A Pandemic Observed

Featured Artists from Nashville: A Pandemic Observed

  • Artist's Statement: Joon Powell

    No one will forget those first harrowing weeks of scanning the news and seeing rates of infection dot maps and then turn entire continents red. Since the spring of 2020, the deadly virus Covid-19 has taken hundreds of thousands of American lives and altered countless more forever.

    Our families navigated the crisis by going into isolation. Our homes became our workplaces, schools, playgrounds, and refuges as we tried to mark the seemingly endless time by celebrating birthdays, caring for animals, and exploring within all those parameters we deemed safe.

    I have always photographed my family, but these photographs serve as a record of our pandemic experience documenting how we have devoted our time and attention. As I observed this strange season of my children's lives, I came to understand their resilience, as they see the world in all its beauty and its brokenness. My children strove for connection like wildflowers lean toward the sunlight. May we all do the same.

  • Artist's Statement: John Partipilo

    Throughout my career as an artist and photojournalist my work has always been about people. The pandemic was no different.

    2020 was a devastating year for most people in the country but especially for people in Nashville.  Metro neighborhoods had just been rocked by a destructive tornado when the pandemic started to spread in Tennessee. The tornado and pandemic were a double disaster on the city. Besides people losing their homes, businesses and schools were closed. Many lost their jobs and could not find work.  Others could not afford food. What was once normal life changed into something abnormal. Depression and fear set in as the virus was killing thousands of people.

    Seeing people hurting and fearful drove me to document this surreal year. The dangers added challenges to my creative process. I had to take maximum precautions to protect myself from the virus, while photographing. Sometimes I was with a family. Other  times I was in the streets with large groups of people. The health risks made it extremely difficult to photograph while wearing a mask and social distancing.

    My passion to create and tell compelling stories always drove me to innovate, adapt, and helped me overcome these health risks. I have always believed that fortune favors the bold when it comes to storytelling.

    John Partipilo has won numerous national awards including a Best of Photojournalism award for an essay of Gangs in Tennessee and a first runner up Pulitzer nomination for the 2010 Nashville Flood.  Partipilo has photographed many essays that have documented people's lives including the War in Iraq, the Nashville Flood in 2010, Civil Rights protests, the bombing on Second Avenue and recently the pandemic. Partipilo is also the author of 2 Photographic books CUBA, MY WORLD ENDS HERE and RANCHO BEYONDO.

  • Artist's Statement: Dawn Majors

    You have to give over a part of yourself in order to get what you need from your subjects, is what I tell anyone that asks me for advice on photography. A good friend of mine once described the relationship between subject and artist as a seduction. He called us beautiful liars.

    I had fairly humble beginnings as the daughter of a hog farmer and brick masons son, who married a girl from the "good" side of the tracks. They had four children and I'm the second of the brood. I'm a serious sort, always have been. As a child I was considered "quaint and curious," by my parents and I suppose that same curiosity fuels my photography. Well, that and emotions. I need moments like I need air, my aim is always to capture the spirit of the subject. Basically, I'm a storyteller.

    Dawn Majors is an African-American Photographer, a shy dreamer who began her budding interest in photography as a sophomore in high school. A graduate of Western Kentucky University's Photojournalism program she spent nearly a decade working at the Saint Louis Post-Dispatch newspaper, where she documented everything from abject poverty to politics. With majors in both photojournalism and anthropology, when people ask why she chose to study both she says,"I figured with both skills I could always take pictures of people, or their bones." A native of Nashville, she is currently working as a photographer for the State of Tennessee.

  • Artist's Statement: Bill Steber

    Covid 19 changed many things, but none more than our relationship to time itself. After decades of life constantly speeding up in the information age, a year of lockdown and isolation brought the Great Pause. Time often seemed interminably slow, suspended in solution, and then suddenly, weeks, even months were gone in a flash. Time was mutable, elastic, elusive.

    My contributions to this exhibit were all made with antique cameras utilizing the wet plate collodion photographic process from the birth years of photography, a much slower time.

    These portraits and still life are about the pandemic, but they are also about time itself. They are contemporary images cloaked in the visual artifice of an earlier age, connecting the two via silver on metal plates exposed through old brass lenses.

    During the long exposures required to make these images, ranging from several seconds to several minutes, the sitter must be very calm and still, dropping the easy snapshot expression for something deeper and more self-reflective, not unlike the experience of the past 16 months.

    Now, as the treadmill of life begins its relentless forward motion once again, demanding speed and productivity, it is my hope that we can retain some of the benefits of slowing down, of keeping still, so that our daily experience can momentarily hold itself in a suspended solution and make for each of us those important moments into permanent, if imperfect, images.

Sponsored by:

  • Religion in the Arts and Contemporary Culture
  • Carpenter Program in Religion, Gender, and Sexuality
  • Vanderbilt University Jean and Alexander Heard Libraries
  • Vanderbilt University College of Arts and Science

I'm interested in purchasing artwork from this exhibit.


Past Events

  • Enter Exit Enter

     

    Artist's Statement

     

    Enter Exit Enter

     

     

    Enter Exit Enter is an exploration of faith and the human condition.  We are born, we live, we die, and our spirits travel.  Although very small in its physical appearance, the dash in between one's birthdate and date of death is arguably the most significant symbol on a tombstone representing the life of the departed.  This exhibition presents a display of work that discusses the journey of life, death, and faith.

     

    My VU artice: Vanderbilt Divinity School Highlights Works by Nashville Portrait Artist Donna Woodley for Black History Month

     

    Donna Woodley is a visual artist whose works primarily discuss the relationship between Black culture and American culture. The figure in her paintings is confrontational towards the visibility and value of black people within American society, both historically and contemporarily. The exploration of the human condition and the importance of every individual's story is what primarily represents the themes of Donna's work. A significant part of her process involves the enlistment of men and women that she knows, including herself. This allows her to evaluate the complexity of human emotions and relationships and to render the figure accordingly. Informed by stereotypes, cultural similarities and differences, perceptions of beauty, mental health, and esteem, Donna's work often uses a touch of humor to potentially open the door for healthy dialogue.

     

    Donna was named Nashville's Best New Artist in 2016 by the Nashville Scene publication and has continued down a path of success. Some of her most recent works are housed at Vanderbilt University and University of Tennessee at Martin, TN.  As a professor of art at currently at Tennessee State University in Nashville, TN, she has served integrally helping to develop students technically and introducing them to understanding how to critically think about the work they make. She resides in Nashville, TN, and is ecstatic about her future as a maker. Learn more on the artist's website.

     

  • Liturgy or Art and Social Healing

    A virtual gathering. More information including registration, will be shared as it is confirmed.

    Date:  March 16, 2021 | Time: 6-7:30PM Central Time

  • The Black Trans Prayer Book


    Join us February 18-19, 2021 for a two-day virtual gathering with the creators of The Black Trans Prayer Book. For more information and the complete schedule, please see: https://divinity.vanderbilt.edu/tbtpb.php


    The Black Trans Prayer Book is an interfaith, multi-dimensional, artistic and theological work that collects the stories, poems, prayers, meditation, spells, and incantations of Black Trans & Non-Binary people. Often pushed out of Faith spaces and yet still deeply connected to a historical legacy of spiritual essentiality, Black Trans People face unprecedented amounts of spiritual, physical, and psychological violence. The Black Trans Prayer Book is a tool of healing, and affirmation centered on uplifting Black Trans & Non-Binary people and celebrating our place within faith.


    Image Description: Event Save the Date, white text on a blurred gray/blue background. On the right 3 sticks of incense are burning, about an inch of each has burned down and is gray. Small lines of orange are visible, and smoke rises from the top of the brown, unburned portion. The text reads: The Black Trans Prayer Book, What does it mean to have a faith practice that simultaneously challenges white supremacy and transphobia?  Save the Date, Feb. 18-19 2021, Healing Ritual/Workshop/Worship/Reading, Divinity.vanderbilt.edu.


  • Resilient Souls: We Rest Then We Rise


    Artist Statement - "Resilient Souls: We Rest Then We Rise"

    My work compiles stories that are my own as well as those of my loved ones, my ancestors and the humble words of strangers. With themes of poverty, death, mental illness, masculinity/femininity and racial injustice, the bright colors and inclusion of words I use create underlying themes of survival, redemption and hope. The juxtaposition of pain and healing are held in the same space within each piece allowing each emotion to be seen and felt to open the way for healing.

    This collection of works is a reflection of the natural strength we have to keep going, even in tough times, and of the need to rest and live our lives before we get back up to fight again.


    MyVU: Divinity School marks Black History Month with new 'Resilient Souls' online art exhibit


    Ashley Mintz is a visual artist and writer creating and residing in Nashville, Tennessee. She began her creative journey when she moved to Nashville to pursue songwriting. Composing and recording her own instrumental music, she has had original music used in independent and short films and a play.


    She began doing abstract drawings and paintings and currently does mixed media work. She can often be found exhibiting her art and has also had her art in the background of two films. As a writer of poetry and song lyrics, she often incorporates writing into her paintings and also exhibits poetry and lyrics alongside paintings. She has been invited to read her poetry and perform music at different arts festivals.


    Ashley regularly teaches her art and writing techniques in art journaling and mixed media art workshops as a way to help others cultivate their creativity and to use art as a way of healing.


  • Stories of Intersex and Faith


    MyVU: Stories of Intersex and Faith


    Join us Monday, October 26th, 2020 at 7pm CST as we celebrate Intersex Awareness Day with an online screening of the film  Stories of Intersex and Faith  followed by a talk back with filmmakers Megan DeFranza and Lianne Simon, Marrisa Adams (featured in the film), and Arlene B. Baratz, MD. For those who cannot join us live, a link will be sent to provide access to the event for 48 hours afterwards. Please register by clicking here. This event is sponsored by the Carpenter Program in Religion, Gender, and Sexuality at Vanderbilt Divinity School; Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and Intersex Life at Vanderbilt University; Religion in the Arts and Contemporary Culture at Vanderbilt Divinity School; Vanderbilt LGBT Policy Lab; and Vanderbilt School of Nursing. 


  • Arts in Black History Month

    Sinner Man, Oil on canvas, 60″ x 48″ by Michael McBride

    MyVU: Arts in Black History Month

    "Art provides a tool for communication between the viewer and me. Color is a major component in that communication which can evoke different moods and ideas. I believe in presenting images that reflect positive ideas and situations. It is important for the viewer to see my work and to view the contents through the lens of their own life experiences."-Michael McBride

  • The Ten Commandments


    Channel 5: Admired organist to accompany DeMille's silent film 'The Ten Commandments' at local screening


    MyVU: Vanderbilt to screen silent film 'The Ten Commandments' with live organist Jan. 13


    "My goal is to basically create a narrative, a sonic narrative for the film as though the director is sitting next to me and telling me what he or she wants the video to say."-Peter Krasinski


  • Ah Rising!


    Ah Rising!


    Gallery Hours: Monday: 11:30AM-1PM | Tuesday: 10AM-12:30PM | Wednesday: 1-3PM | Thursday: 10AM-12:30PM


    My name is Erie Chapman.  I am a Baptist minister, a graduate of Vanderbilt Divinity School, a lawyer, healthcare executive-and, an artist.  In each of my career roles, art has traveled along, sometimes in the background, sometimes in the fore.  I am now in a season where art is in the foreground and my experiences of faith and religious scholarship are bound up in it.  The exhibit you will be seeing, "Ah Rising" is very much a work in progress.  It should be viewed as something "not yet there" but, hopefully, on its way.  As is sometimes the case with artists, the first move-the creation of the artwork-allows for a secondary effect, an understanding of what is, below the surface, inspiring the artist's creativity.  In my case with this exhibit, the creative spark comes from the personal need to reimagine God, especially God's messianic persona.  Who is the new messiah that seems to me to waiting in the wings, ready to bring the fresh wind of divine presence to humankind?  In the case of this exhibit that divine, messianic "person" is female.  Her name is Ah.


    Another recurrence in the practice of artists is the impulse to explore that which we do not know-that which is mystery, that which draws us into unknown territories in search of revelation or experience.  And this is the situation in which I find myself creatively-exploring a manifestation of divinity very much different from the one I heard preached in my youth.

    Feeding my creative direction in this exhibition is a vision that occurred during a near-drowning experience in my youth.  It was a vision of God personified as a woman. In the vision, the woman instructs me that God is Beauty and that I must honor that and quest for it.   Subsequently, I have tried through art to capture the divinity in human beings-particularly women-by photographing people of every background, race and orientation.  A number of the images in this exhibit are of European women but my larger oeuvre includes images of Black and Asian women-from young adults to the elderly.


    While I am a heterosexual WASP who grew up in what is often referred to as a privileged social context, there were complicating relationships in my life that sensitized me and opened me up to the realities of others.  Two of those relationships were very close to home.  My younger sister was born with dwarfism.  I spent my childhood fighting boys who made fun of her.  My younger brother is gay and I have defended him as well-to our father.  Over the years, these two relationships and numerous others helped foster in me a religious and intellectual hunger that led me to Vanderbilt Divinity School and subsequently ordination.  The church where I was ordained, Glendale Baptist was thrown out of the Southern Baptist convention due to our two women pastors, one of whom identifies as lesbian.  The products of my artistic output share some of the same traits as my theology-love of the divine, love of humanity in all its variety, and seeking new (to me) paths to understanding.  For me, art is more a path than a destination.  More a question than a statement, more a hint than a full story.

    Although I have two postgraduate degrees (law and theology), taught at Vanderbilt for two years, and went a little over halfway toward a PhD at Vandy, my artistic pursuits are not academic.  Instead, they are a very personal expression of one man in pursuit of the experience understanding of  beauty, which I define as divinity made manifest.


    Other Artistic Endeavors


    I have been a full time photo-artist, film maker, composer and poet for more than ten years meaning that I integrate all four of these disciplines in my work (one of my books of poetry and photography is Woman as Beauty. Over the past ten years I have created and produced two, award-winning feature films and three short films,) The first of these is called Who Loves Judas (also performed as a play).  It addresses the hypocrisy of betrayal in contemporary America.  The second is "Alex Dreaming" in which Minton Sparks co-starred.


    Exhibit Dedication


    I was running Baptist Hospital full time while going to Divinity School full time.  So when I showed up in a coat and tie no one sat near me.  After a class on the first day a black woman who had been in the same class said to me,  "So, are you one of those anal retentive white guys with your coat & tie?"  Michelle Jackson and I became great friends and continued to be after she married her partner, Lillian.  A few weeks after graduation Michelle died suddenly.  She was 38.  I set up a Scholarship Fund in her honor at the Divinity School (it still exists) and I am dedicating this exhibit to Michelle, a gay black woman who looked like my opposite but was, instead, my sister.



  • Alicia Henry: Patterns


    Alicia Henry: Patterns


    RELIGION IN THE ARTS AND CONTEMPORARY CULTURE AND THE KELLY MILLER SMITH INSTITUTE ON BLACK CHURCH STUDIES PRESENT: ALICIA HENRY: PATTERNS. RUNS JANUARY 31 - MARCH 14, 2019


    GALLERY HOURS

    MONDAY: 12:30 - 2:30 PM; TUESDAY: 9 - 11 AM; WEDNESDAY - 12:30 - 2:30 PM; THURSDAY: 12:30 - 2:30 PM

    OPENING RECEPTION:  THURSDAY, JANUARY 31, 2019, 4:00 - 7:00 PM, VANDERBILT DIVINITY SCHOOL, ROOM 120


    Gallery Talk with Alicia Henry, Artist: Monday, February 11, 2019, 12:00 noon


    Vanderbilt Divinity School, Room 120


    SPIRITUAL MEDITATION WITH PHILLIS SHEPPARD, PH.D.


    Wednesday, February 27, 2019, 12:00 noon, Vanderbilt Divinity School, Room 120


    THE ARTIST'S STATEMENT


    A common recurring image in my work is the human figure-the figure in isolation and the figure interacting with others. My work often explores these ideas through the theme of the paper doll and paper cutouts. I am exploring the social relationship these images have had in shaping the stereotypical and idealized figures in the media by depicting generalized figures representing what I hope is a broader vision of society (racial, gender, economic, and social levels), my goal is to make visible that which still often goes unseen.


  • Graph of Desire

    Graph of Desire: A retrospective exhibition of paintings by Mira Gerard


    September 27-November 12, 2018


    Gallery Hours: Monday, Thursday, Friday


    12:15 to 2:15 PM


    Opening Reception: September 27, 4-7PM



    Vanderbilt Divinity School G-20 (Arts Room)




    Artist's Statement


    I make paintings of the figure as a way to understand desire, which functions in my work in part as a fantasy about being both subject and maker. For several years when I was growing up, my family lived in a small intentional community in rural New Hampshire with no TVs and with limited access to experiences of mainstream American culture in the 70's. I became fascinated with fairies and fairy tales, along with the meadows, stone walls and woods around me. During that time, I was a frequent subject of my father's paintings- usually depicted playing in fields of flowers in sun-drenched afternoon landscapes.


    Ten years ago I quite literally stumbled into Lacanian psychoanalysis. It's a practice of speaking freely and in a very nonlinear way, which parallels studio processes of sorting through fragments, pieces of images and ideas, to make something new that remembers (re-members).  I create staged photographs and videos and supplement those with screenshots, art historical references, and collage. I am specifically interested in figures or elements in landscapes and spaces, and in the implication of a kind of storyboard, a before-to-after. Because the process of painting itself feels necessarily perfomative and vulnerable, I try to communicate this through both content and approach. I have embraced traditional, old master forms of construction, with a method in place for the breakdown of those processes to occur, so that the paintings themselves are like landscapes and bodies- a physical manifestation of interruptions, scars, layers, and time.


    Mira Gerard's creative practice spans painting, performance, and video. She received her BFA from Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana and her MFA from the University of Georgia in Athens, Georgia.  Her work has been exhibited at a wide range of venues.  Her work was selected for  New American Paintings #118  (Southeast Edition, 2015) and has been published in journals including Poets & Artists, The Cortland Review, and Manifest Painting International.  She has presented papers and performance & video works on the intersection of art and psychoanalysis at conferences including the International Zizek Studies Conference, LACK, Psychology and the Other, and the Southeastern College Art Conference.  She has been awarded fellowships for residencies at Ox-Bow School of Art, Cill Rialaig Project, The Hambidge Center, The Vermont Studio Center, and the Virginia Center for Creative Arts. Mira Gerard is Chair and Professor in the Department of Art & Design at East Tennessee State University in Johnson City, Tennessee where she has lived since 2001. 


  • Desire: An Evening of Musical Reflection

    Desire: An Evening of Musical Reflection


    THURSDAY, APRIL 5, 2018 | 6:00 P.M.
    VANDERBILT DIVINITY SCHOOL G-20 (ARTS ROOM)



    While pursuing his Master of Divinity degree, Luther Young has undertaken research at the intersection of race, sexuality, and theology. An extension of the M.Div. Senior Project entitled "Pimps and Sissies: Gay Men, the Black Church, and Liberation Theology," Desire uses song and narration to illustrate how gay black men of faith maintain their relationship with God, either within or without the Black Church. Luther along with members of the community will perform musical selections to guide reflections about the experiences of gay black men in religious contexts. Desire will be held Thursday, April 5th in the Divinity School Arts Room at 6 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.


  • Eikon: A Triple Encounter

    Eikon: A Triple Encounter

    GALLERY HOURS: MONDAY, WEDNESDAY, FRIDAY 12 - 2 PM (ROOM G-20)

  • Lecture: The Canopy and the Byzantine Church

    April 14, 2018 • 3:00 p.m. Divinity School Room G-23

    Dr. Jelena Bogdanovic, MA'02
    Associate Professor, Iowa State University

    Lecture followed by a gallery showing for the exhibit, Eikon: A Triple Encounter (on display March 27-May 10).

    Sponsored by: Vanderbilt Divinity School's Program in Religion in the Arts and Contemporary Culture, Department of History of Art, Program in Classical and Mediterranean Studies, Department of Religious Studies, and the Department of History.

    This event is free and Open to the Public.

  • Singer-songwriter, Mary Gauthier

    February 27th, 2018 - 4-5 PM - Room G-20

    We are happy to offer this special session with acclaimed singer-songwriter Mary Gauthier.  Gauthier will discuss her latest collection of songs, Rifles and Rosary Beads and her songs such as "Mercy Now," which, like Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah," has become embraced popularly as a secular hymn.  Free and open to the public.

     "To be affected by these songs, you don't have to know anything of Gauthier's backstory (Louisiana orphan addict chef turned sober troubadour), the respect she commands across gender lines in the Americana scene, or the heavyweight catalog she's built out of unflinching introspection and Southern Gothic-shaded storytelling."   NPR Music

     "…Louisiana-raised Mary Gauthier has become one of Americana music's most admired artists-across the U.S. and around the world."   Wall Street Journal

  • In My Lifetime: An African American Perspective

    February 1 - 28, 2018

    In observation of Black History Month, Religion in the Arts and Contemporary Culture is pleased to partner with the Kelly Miller Smith Institute on Black Church Studies to present an exhibition of paintings and mixed-media works from Nashville artist Omari Booker.  

    in my lifetime
    "Lock my body, can't trap my mind." -Jay-Z

     

    Mental and spiritual liberation in the face of physical limitations are themes woven into all of my work.

    Social justice, family, and the cerebration of culture through music are threads that come together to make the body of work that you see today.

    I am a Nashville native. I attended Montgomery Bell Academy and went on to play basketball at Belmont University. After a break from school I graduated from Tennessee State University with a B.S. in Graphic Design. My passion was studio art and that became my focus. Influenced by my mentor, instructor, and friend Samuel Dunson, as well as James Threalkill, Michael McBride, and a tremendous Nashville Art community I have continued to create work daily.

    The pieces displayed explore my experiences and were created between 2014 and 2017. - Omari Booker

  • Ritual's Musicality

    "Ritual's Musicality: Music as Innate to Bodies at Worship" by Dr. Bruce T. Morrill, S.J.


    January 18, 2018 - Noon to 1PM - Room G-20 (Divinity ground floor)


    Whereas people widely recognize from experience that music enlivens Christian liturgy and other types of corporate worship, explaining and exploiting scientifically and theologically why that is the case has proven a difficult-but increasingly rewarding-challenge. This lecture will review key findings on the bodily effects (as opposed to simply attending to the texts and language) of ritual song, as well as silence, as these prove constitutive of the shared human action of divine worship.



  • Invictus

    Invictus: 20 works Celebrating African Americans' Pursuit of Freedom and Will to Survive

    IN THE NEWS:
    Read 'Invictus' art exhibition inspired by Vanderbilt student's African American studies

    FEBRUARY 2 - FEBRUARY 24, 2017

    Weekly Gallery Hours: Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from Noon to 2PM - Room G-20 (ground floor Divinity)

            and by appointment (religionandart@vanderbilt.edu)

    Opening Reception: Thursday, February 2, 2017; 3-7PM - Room G-20 (ground floor Divinity)

    Closing Reception: February 22, 2017; Noon - 2PM - Black Cultural Center (Vanderbilt campus)

  • Gallery Talk with Samuel L. Dunson, Jr.: Creating "Meet The Fergusons"

    Event Date: Sep. 23, 2015

    Watch the Gallery Talk here.

    Read the VU News Featured Article, 'Meet the Fergusons' spotlights work of Nashville artist

  • The Role of the Arts in Theological Education: A Round Table Conversation

    THURSDAY, OCT. 30TH

    Panelists:

    • Heather Daugherty (Trevecca Univ.)
    • Steven Guthrie (Belmont Univ.)
    • Rocky Horton (Lipscomb Univ.)
    • Robin Jensen(Vanderbilt Univ.)
    • Robert MacSwain (Univ. of the South: Sewanee)
    • Dave Perkins (Vanderbilt Divinity School)
    • Taylor Worley (Union Univ.)  
    RACC poster
  • Gallery Talk for "Subjects with Objects" Exhibition

    Featuring Jonathan Richter and DKM

    September 10, 2014

    dice

  • "God-Talk and Memoir Writing"

    MARCH 25TH, 2014

    Featuring:

    • REV. BECCA STEVENS (SNAKE OIL)
    • REV. IAN CRON (JESUS, MY FATHER, THE CIA, AND ME)
    • ASHLEY CLEVELAND (LITTLE BLACK SHEEP)
    • PHIL MADEIRA (GOD ON THE ROCKS

    Dave Perkins: Moderator

    becca
    Becca Stevens

    ian
    Ian Morgan Cron

    ashley
    Ashely Cleveland

    madeira
    Phil Madeira

  • Roberta Bondi

    March 11 & 12, 2014

    March 11th: "Theology and the Most Intimate Heart: Readings in Poetry and Memoir"

    In conjunction with Dr. Perkins' class "Creativity: A Theological Engagement," Bondi will read and comment on selections from her autobiographical writings as well as a yet to be published volume of poetry.  She will speak to the idea of creative scholarship and recount her personal narrative of finding her place in relationship to Christianity and the academy.

     

    March 12th:"Imagine the World is a Circle: Dorotheus of Gaza on God, Neighbor and Self" 

    In conjunction with Dr. Michelson's seminar on "Desert Spirituality," Prof. Bondi will discuss her book To Pray and to Love and also the writings of Dorotheos of Gaza and Theodoret of Cyrrhus. She will discuss how these ancient monastic texts can still speak to the act of loving God and neighbor as self as well as the role of humility and pride in interpersonal relations.

  • Amy Grant

    October 22, 2013

    amy grantReligion in the Arts and Contemporary Culture is pleased to present an open session with acclaimed singer-songwriter Amy Grant.  Grant is an American music icon who has crossed genre boundaries and earned the respect of fans and peers with her honest and vulnerable approach to songwriting.  In her 25 year music career, Grant has had six #1 singles, sold over 30 million albums and won six Grammy Awards.  
     
  • The Holy of the Broken: Leonard Cohen, Jeff Buckley & The Unlikely Ascent of "Halleljuah"

     Tuesday 15, 2013

    "A venerated creator (Cohen).  An adored, tragic interpreter (Buckley).  An uncomplicated, memorable melody.  Ambiguous, evocative words.  Faith and uncertainty.  Pain and pleasure."

    Today, "Hallelujah" is one of the most-performed rock songs in history. It has become a staple of movies and television shows as diverse as Shrek and The West Wing, of tribute videos and telethons. It has been covered by hundreds of artists, including Bob Dylan, U2, Justin Timberlake, and k.d. lang, and it is played every year at countless events-both sacred and secular-around the world.

    Yet when music legend Leonard Cohen first wrote and recorded "Hallelujah," it was for an album rejected by his longtime record label. Ten years later, charismatic newcomer Jeff Buckley reimagined the song for his much-anticipated debut album, Grace. Three years after that, Buckley would be dead, his album largely unknown, and "Hallelujah" still unreleased as a single. After two such commercially disappointing outings, how did one obscure song become an international anthem for human triumph and tragedy, a song each successive generation seems to feel they have discovered and claimed as uniquely their own?

     Through in-depth interviews with its interpreters and the key figures who were actually there for its original recordings, acclaimed music journalist Alan Light follows the improbable journey of "Hallelujah" straight to the heart of popular culture. The Holy or the Broken (Simon and Schuster) gives insight into how great songs come to be, how they come to be listened to, and how they can be forever reinterpreted.

    "Thoughtful and illuminating... [Mr. Light] is a fine companion for this journey through one song's changing fortunes."  (The New York Times)

     A Brilliantly revelatory...masterful work of critical journalism." (Kirkus Reviews)

  • Yvonne Gilmore-Essig

    Yvonne Gilmore-Essig

  • John Guider: View From a Small Boat

    February 28th, 2011

    John Guider ImageReligion in the Arts and Contemporary Culture is pleased to present View from a Small Boat with award-winning photographer and adventurer John Guider. Guider built a small motor-less boat, launched it into the Cumberland River close to his home, traveled to the Mississippi, to the Gulf of Mexico, across the Gulf to Key West, then up the entire East Coast of Florida. He will soon begin an arduous trip up the Atlantic coast to New York City. "My intention is to go out for at least two months every year until I have completed the circumnavigation known as the 'Great Loop'. Once I get to New York City, I will enter the Hudson and Erie Canal, make my way across the Great Lakes, down to Chicago, and back to the Mississippi, ending up in Cairo, Illinois where I first entered from the Ohio, Tennessee, and Cumberland Rivers. The total journey is over 6000 miles, I am a little more than halfway with at least three years to go." Guider will tell us about his several year journey, which is also a journey of the soul and spirit. He will feature his exquisite photographs showing the water and land from a point of view seldom seen. Like the abstractions of modernist photographers, Guider's emphasis on texture and ambiguous subject matter evokes his encounter with nature. His work shows us a world visible only at a slow river pace. "My images are meant to be an expression for what I was feeling rather than a response to what I was seeing. The realities that appear in my photographs are intended to act as vessels for the poetry that lies within me."

    John Guider is a nationally recognized award winning photographer and author, and one of eleven finalists in The Most Beautiful Minds in America 2011. His work has appeared in major publications such as Print, Communication Arts and Graphis. He is the recipient of many awards including a national Addy Award, the American Cancer Society's Excalibur Award, and the Nashville Advertising Federation's highest award, the Silver Medalist, in the year 2000. His images and his adventures have been featured in numerous magazine, television, and newspaper articles and broadcasts. 


A Liturgy of Art and Social Healing

A virtual gathering. 

The March 2021 installment of Vanderbilt Divinity's Relevant Religion series: A Liturgy of Art and Social Healing, hosted by Religion in the Arts and Contemporary Culture.

We will envision the revolution outside of the ways we've been conscripted as we move away from theologies that accelerate supremacy culture. This liturgical service will include a spoken word performance by Joel Markus Antson, a sermon on politicizing both spirituality and revolution by Dr. Roberto Che, guided embodiment experiences with Erin Law, and music sung by Sarah Potenza. The liturgy will be followed by a panel with the four co-creators of the liturgy.

Watch the event here.

Connect with the Activist Theology Project on their  website ,  Instagram , and  Twitter .

A liturgy of art and social healing
Image description: The background photo is taken by Joel Filipe. It has swirls of gold, orange, yellow, white that looks like swirled paint, or a galaxy. It is overlaid with a dark blue hue, with the title of the event, A liturgy of art and social healing, and circular headshots of the evening's co-creators are displayed with their names beneath.

About the co-creators of A Liturgy of Art and Social Healing:

Joel headshot

Joel M. Antson

JMA (him/his) is an encouraging spoken word artist and an aspiring therapist from Estonia. He is an MTS candidate at Vanderbilt Divinity School and studying Imago Relationship Therapy. In his music, JMA combines his love for therapy and social justice to produce soundtracks of hope, healing, and transformation. As he's from Estonia, a country that regained its independence from the USSR through the Singing Revolution, he believes in the liberating power of the song and the people uniting in singing for a common cause.

jmantson.com | @jmantson on Instagram | JMA on Spotify

Erin L headshot

Erin Law

Erin Law (they/she) has a background in dance, somatics, bodywork and cultural studies.  Their call and vocation is to facilitate educational spaces rooted in creative embodied practice that supports people and communities who are ready and willing to unhinge from supremacy culture and lean into collective liberation.  She is currently Embodiment & Somatics Curator at Activist Theology Project. Erin facilitates and engages in practices, analysis, advocacy, and activism to contribute to the transformation  and alchemy of systemic oppression/supremacy culture, toward the  blossoming of a more resilient and whole humanity. Erin is indebted to her family, and all of her teachers, students, and colleagues who have challenged and inspired her. 

You can learn more about Erin via their website:  www.erinlawembodiment.com or Embodiment & Somatics Curator with Activist Theology Project.

dr. robyn h-e headshot

Dr. Roberto Che

Roberto Che, PhD (they/them) has been described in a myriad of ways: a scholar-activist, scholar-leader, thought-leader, teacher, public theologian, ethicist, poet of moral reason, and word artist. Among these ways of describing Dr. Roberto, they are also a visionary thinker who has spent two decades working in the borderlands of church, academy, & movements seeking to not only disrupt but dismantle supremacy culture and help steward the logic of liberation as a Transqueer Latinx. They enflesh a deep hope of collaborating in these borderland spaces where their work seeks to contribute to the ongoing work of collective liberation.  Dr. Roberto is the Founder of the Activist Theology Project, a Nashville based collaborative project that seeks to work with the dominant culture and produces curriculum at the intersection of scholarship and activism.  Dr. Roberto was named 1 of 10 Faith Leaders to watch by the Center for American Progress in 2018.  Dr. Roberto has been featured in fashion magazines and appeared on many different podcasts. As a scholar-activist, Dr. Roberto is committed to translating theory to action, so that our work in the borderlands reflect the deep spiritual work of transforming self to transforming the world. As the Founder of the Activist Theology Project, Dr. Roberto is committed to the work of social healing through public theology initiatives, and writes & creates both academic & other valuable resources, including digital resources. Dr. Roberto is a non-binary Transqueer Latinx and adult on the Autism spectrum who calls Nashville, TN home. They are the author of Activist Theology, 2019, published by Fortress Press and the forthcoming book "Body Becoming."

Learn more about Dr. Roberto, here. Connect with the Activist Theology Project on their websiteInstagram, and Twitter.


Lectures

  • Lectures This year

    In commemoration of Black History Month

    Donna Woodley Gallery Talk

    Tuesday, February 1st, 2022 at 6pm on Zoom

    Donna Woodley is a visual artist whose works primarily discuss the relationship between Black culture and American culture. The figure in her paintings is confrontational towards the visibility and value of black people within American society, both historically and contemporarily. The exploration of the human condition and the importance of every individual's story is what primarily represents the themes of Donna's work. A significant part of her process involves the enlistment of men and women that she knows, including herself. This allows her to evaluate the complexity of human emotions and relationships and to render the figure accordingly. Informed by stereotypes, cultural similarities and differences, perceptions of beauty, mental health, and esteem, Donna's work often uses a touch of humor to potentially open the door for healthy dialogue.

    Donna was named Nashville's Best New Artist in 2016 by the Nashville Scene publication and has continued down a path of success. Some of her most recent works are housed at Vanderbilt University and University of Tennessee at Martin, TN.  As a professor of art at currently at Tennessee State University in Nashville, TN, she has served integrally helping to develop students technically and introducing them to understanding how to critically think about the work they make. She resides in Nashville, TN, and is ecstatic about her future as a maker. Learn more on the artist's website.

    Artist's Statement

    Enter Exit Enter

    Enter Exit Enter is an exploration of faith and the human condition.  We are born, welive, we die, and our spirits travel.  Although very small in its physical appearance, the dash in between one's birthdate and date of death is arguably the most significant symbol on a tombstone representing the life of the departed.  This exhibition presents a display of work that discusses the journey of life, death, and faith.  

  • Past Lectures
    In commemoration of Black History Month
     
    Ashley Mintz Gallery Talk
     
    Monday, February 1st, 2021 at 6pm on Zoom
     
    Artist Statement - "Resilient Souls: We Rest Then We Rise"
    My work compiles stories that are my own as well as those of my loved ones, my ancestors and the humble words of strangers. With themes of poverty, death, mental illness, masculinity/femininity and racial injustice, the bright colors and inclusion of words I use create underlying themes of survival, redemption and hope. The juxtaposition of pain and healing are held in the same space within each piece allowing each emotion to be seen and felt to open the way for healing.
    This collection of works is a reflection of the natural strength we have to keep going, even in tough times, and of the need to rest and live our lives before we get back up to fight again.
     

    In commemoration of Black History Month

    Michael McBride Gallery Talk

    Monday, February 10th, 2020

    Noon to 1PM in the Art Room

    Continuing what has been an exciting Black History Month visual arts exhibition, VDS is happy to host artist Michael McBride for a gallery talk and conversation this Monday, February 10th .  McBride will speak on his philosophy/theology of art making and will entertain questions and comments from attendees.  Refreshments will be served; the event will take place in the Art Room between noon and 1 PM.  All are welcome!

    Island Breeze by Michael McBride

    "Art provides a tool for communication between the viewer and me. Color is a major component in that communication which can evoke different moods and ideas. I believe in presenting images that reflect positive ideas and situations. It is important for the viewer to see my work and to view the contents through the lens of their own life experiences." (McBride)
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    G RAPH OF DESIRE: A RETROSPECTIVE EXHIBITION OF PAINTINGS BY MIRA GERARD

    September 27-November 12, 2018

    Opening Reception: September 27, 4-7pm

    Vanderbilt Divinity School G-20 (Arts Room)

    Artist's Statement

    I make paintings of the figure as a way to understand desire, which functions in my work in part as a fantasy about being both subject and maker. For several years when I was growing up, my family lived in a small intentional community in rural New Hampshire with no TVs and with limited access to experiences of mainstream American culture in the 70's. I became fascinated with fairies and fairy tales, along with the meadows, stone walls and woods around me. During that time, I was a frequent subject of my father's paintings- usually depicted playing in fields of flowers in sun-drenched afternoon landscapes. 

    Ten years ago I quite literally stumbled into Lacanian psychoanalysis. It's a practice of speaking freely and in a very nonlinear way, which parallels studio processes of sorting through fragments, pieces of images and ideas, to make something new that remembers (re-members).  I create staged photographs and videos and supplement those with screenshots, art historical references, and collage. I am specifically interested in figures or elements in landscapes and spaces, and in the implication of a kind of storyboard, a before-to-after. Because the process of painting itself feels necessarily perfomative and vulnerable, I try to communicate this through both content and approach. I have embraced traditional, old master forms of construction, with a method in place for the breakdown of those processes to occur, so that the paintings themselves are like landscapes and bodies- a physical manifestation of interruptions, scars, layers, and time. 

    Mira Gerard's creative practice spans painting, performance, and video. She received her BFA from Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana and her MFA from the University of Georgia in Athens, Georgia.  Her work has been exhibited at a wide range of venues.  Her work was selected for  New American Paintings #118  (Southeast Edition, 2015) and has been published in journals including Poets & Artists, The Cortland Review, and Manifest Painting International.  She has presented papers and performance & video works on the intersection of art and psychoanalysis at conferences including the International Zizek Studies Conference, LACK, Psychology and the Other, and the Southeastern College Art Conference.  She has been awarded fellowships for residencies at Ox-Bow School of Art, Cill Rialaig Project, The Hambidge Center, The Vermont Studio Center, and the Virginia Center for Creative Arts. Mira Gerard is Chair and Professor in the Department of Art & Design at East Tennessee State University in Johnson City, Tennessee where she has lived since 2001.