Religion and Arts News and Events

Past Events


  • 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)



    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.