Friday, March 26, 2010

NDUS Arts and Humanities Summit Proposal

April 1st is the deadline to submit proposals for the NDUS Arts and Humanities Summit being held this year at Dickinson State University. Recently UND Department of Art & Design faculty member Patrick Luber and I have been discussing our submissions and decided to create ones of similar topics hopefully to be cobbled together into some form of panel on religion and art.

Since the deadline is rapidly approaching I decided that I should pull something together. Below is my first attempt.

Embodying Theology: Theological Reflections and Artistic Practice

Whether it is the artful transmission, recording and subsequent translations of its central narrative, or those narratives embodied in art and architecture, Psalm and song, or the wit and Word of preachers and theologians, the arts have played a vital role in the ongoing life of the Christian faith. And yet, this relationship, particularly for the visual arts, has been a tenuous one throughout its history. The Church’s anxiety of the artists’ freedom of expression is matched only by the artists’ anxiety of censorship and misuse by ecclesial authorities.

Following the continued splintering of the post-Reformation church, each denomination has cultivated its own, both implicit and explicit, aesthetic traditions. For many reasons, the pitch and pace of recent conversations concerning the arts and Christian tradition has continued to grow across Protestantism, particularly within Evangelicalism. As these conversations continue to expand and mature, they require an increasing nuance and thoughtful articulations of praxis from both artists and theologians.

By reflecting on my own recent academic and ecclesial pilgrimages both as a trained theologian and an artist-in-training, this paper will attempt to reconcile the woof and weft of my own artistic practices in the light of current theological trajectories.