Spirit of Art

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Spirit of Art / Art of Spirit:  A Collection of Events Celebrating the Sacred Nature of Creativity.  A month-long celebration with an art exhibition, music and dance performances, poetry readings, talks, and practical workshops to be held between  24th August and 30 September 2019.

EarthDiverse, Artmakers Trust and the Waikato Interfaith Council are pleased to announce a a series of talks, readings, music and dance performances, practical workshops and an ongoing exhibition devoted to the theme of Art and Spirituality to be held between 24th August and 30 September. Event venues: Lady Goodfellow Chapel, University of Waikato; Artmakers Trust, 2 Seddon Street, Hamilton.

Through the arts, poetry, music and architecture, religious traditions around the world have communicated their most important values ​​and organised their cultural life. Many contemporary artists also engage with religious narratives and ideas in a critical or affirmative way. Some see creativity and enthusiasm as forms of a spiritual existence: if the divine is involved in the creation of the world, artists are, as it were, co-creators.

The grand religious narratives continue to strongly influence contemporary culture. That is why a multifaith group in the Waikato has decided to explore the relationship between art, spirituality, and academic/political discourse. Through an art exhibition at Lady Goodfellow Chapel, and public talks, discussions and workshops, we aim at bringing together art makers and art lovers to explore the connections between art and spirituality.

Specific “Spirit of Art, Art of Spirit” events, music and dance performances, poetry readings, workshops and seminars:

All events are free and open to the public!

Saturday 24 August, 2:00-6:00pm: Poetry Workshop: our opening event. Event organisers: Norman Franke and Carrie Barber. If you wish to participate in this event, please contact Norman at <normanpfranke@gmail.com>. Event location: Lady Goodfellow Chapel, University of Waikato, Gate 1, Knighton Rd, Hamilton.

Friday 30 August, 6:30-9:30pm: Spirit of Art/Art of Spirit Opening Event and Exhibition: Opening remarks: Dr Norman Franke. Participants & Exhibitors: Norman Franke, Peter Dornauf, Sylvie Rabinovitch-Bolstad (digital stories), Tina Das (painting), Geoffrey Irving (wood sculpture), Andrew McKean (photography), Elske Reyneke Barnard (visual arts), Victoria Miles (icons/paintings), Esther Schuchardt (oil and acrylic paintings) and others. Event location: Lady Goodfellow Chapel, University of Waikato, Gate 1, Knighton Rd, Hamilton. The Art Exhibition will continue during regular opening hours through to the end of September.

Saturday 7 September, 6:30-9:30pm: Performance eveningReligion, Spirituality and the Art of Performance: Performances include: Shailaja Ravi Kumar and Nishtha Singh (Bharatnatyam dance), Bahá’í vocal group, Burty Bedeux (piano) and Peter Minor (Clarinet), Scotty Cranwell (Guitar), Derek Kingsbury, Oy Vey! (Waikato Jewish Association group), Josh Nachowitz and Tara Fernandez-Ritchie (vocal duet), and the Waikato Interfaith Choir. Event location: Lady Goodfellow Chapel, University of Waikato, Gate 1, Knighton Rd, Hamilton.

Monday 9 September, 7:00-9:00pm: Speaker Series:  “Image and Iconography: a Comparative Exploration of Art & Spirituality in Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism” by Todd Nachowitz, PhD. This talk will look at the history of Art and Spirituality, beginning with an evolutionary look at some of our earliest symbols and cave paintings and will continue on up through a modern exploration of the themes of art and spirituality in our main religious traditions. Event location: Lady Goodfellow Chapel, University of Waikato, Gate 1, Knighton Rd, Hamilton.

Wednesday 11 September, 7:00pm: An Evening of Music and Stories with Luke Scott: Irish singer-songwriter Luke Slott presents a musical journey through the story of Baha’u’llah and the Bab, who, in the 19th century, while surrounded by religious fanaticism, promoted the unity of mankind, the equality of men and women, the essential harmony of science and religion, and the need for the building of a united world civilization. Learn more at <lukeslott.com>. Free entry!

Monday 16 September, 7:00-9:00pm: Speaker Series: “Pure Abstract Pictorial Art for Theology Across Religious Borders,” with Dr. Christopher Longhurst, Lecturer in Theology, The Catholic Institute of Aotearoa New Zealand, Wellington. Abstract: Interfaith dialogue can benefit immensely from comparative theology. This talk demonstrates the use of non-figural abstract pictorial art (pure abstract art). After defining the art type in question, the subject-matter-based approach to comparative theology of comparativist Robert Cummings Neville is taken up and applied to pictorial form (meaning made visible) and pictorial content (what is in the painting). Neville describes the subject matter of comparative theology as “religious and theological ideas that fall under comparative categories.” Various artworks are presented as capable of expressing these ideas from different religious traditions across religious categories, that is, the artworks underscore Neville’s description of comparative theological subject matter in visual pictorial imagery. How this art functions as illustrative medium for the intersection of comparable religious ideas will evidence an interfaith aspect of comparative theology. Master artworks under consideration are from the pictorial genres of American abstract expressionism, Russian avant-garde, and newcomers to the post-secular abstract pictorial art scene. Examples of theological ideas shared across religious borders are Hinduism’s moksha (liberation), Islam’s wahdat al-wujud (Unity of Being), Asma al-husna (Beautiful names of Allah), Christianity’s divine attributes, Judaism’s echad (Divine Oneness) and Ein-Sof (Endless One), Shih-t’ao’s i-hua (one-stroke), and the Upanishad’s Soham (I am That IS), among others. Conclusions reached indicate that abstract non-figural pictorial art can serve as a tool for interreligious dialogue by exhibiting similar theological topics in diverse religious traditions, that is, Neville’s common ground of comparative theology. Event location: Lady Goodfellow Chapel, University of Waikato, Gate 1, Knighton Rd, Hamilton.

Saturday 21 September, 1:00-6:00pm: Creating Art of the Spirit Workshop: Artmakers invites anyone interested to participate in a group creativity workshop, around themes of spirituality. We will express ideas from both a personal perspective as well as draw on diverse cultural traditions. We will establish an atmosphere of fellowship to explore these themes, using a variety of media. Our main focus is on the process and the practice of collaborative creativity. Expertise is not necessary – everyone can contribute and ‘have a go’. Upon completion, the group can then decide whether the artwork we produce will have a ’second’ life, e.g. exhibition, collection, further gatherings of the contributors. Artmakers will provide some basic materials, but please bring your own if you have some and can supplement our resources. There is no fee, but a koha for materials would be greatly appreciated. Pre-booking is essential as group workshop size is limited to 15 people, so please make sure you come if you make a commitment to attend so that other who may wish to come, can. To reserve a place, please contact Artmakers directly at <info@artmakers.co.nz> or phone/text 021 991 576. For more info, please visit the Creating Art of the Spirit Workshop page on the Artmakers website at: <http://artmakers.co.nz/wordpress/>. Event location: Artmakers Trust, Norris Ward Park, 2 Seddon Rd, Hamilton.

Saturday 21 September, 7:00-9:30 pm: Poetry Reading: Participants: Norman Franke, Carrie Barber, Anjum Rahman, Peter Dornauf, Maryana Garcia. If you are interested in participating, please contact Norman at <normanpfranke@gmail.com>. Event location: Lady Goodfellow Chapel, University of Waikato, Gate 1, Knighton Rd, Hamilton.

Monday 23 September, 7:00-9:00pm: Speaker Series: “‘Jesus and all his disciples were artists’ (William Blake) – The Art of Religion” by Norman Franke, PhD. Abstract: What do we do with the surprising thesis of the famous English romantic William Blake? On inspection, there may be more scriptural and historical evidence for it than many theologians and biographers of Jesus have allowed for. Samuel Foster Damon’s (1988) interpretation of the Blake saying sees spirituality and creative imagination as opening up quasi-artistic views of reality that perceive the eschatological and the divine in the ordinary and the mundane. This imaginative worldview does not settle with the status quo of political, economic or academic conditions, but seeks to overcome them in order to holistically establish more justice, social participation and beauty. And as modern theologian Pete Enns (2012) reminds us: ‘Jesus himself communicated the deep mysteries of a new way of being through the use of such things as vivid imagery, symbolism, metaphors, and other devices common to artistic expression.’ Following the ideas of Blake, Foster and Enns, I shall analyse the ‘Lord’s Prayer’, which is said millions of times a day worldwide, as a religious poem and close to its original (Aramaic) poetic language. I will also read one of the tehillim (Psalm 126) and a Sufi poem by Rumi (‘Special Plates’) in a similar way, paying special attention to the poetic dimensions of the spiritual texts. With the help of philosopher Ernst Bloch and theologians Dorothee Sölle and Bruce Ellis Benson, the original thesis will then be further expanded: art is not just accessory in the religious and social sphere but is of crucial importance for the constitution and interpretation of the (spiritual) world. If the divine manifests itself in an ongoing process of creation and liberation, artists are special collaborators in this process. They are potential co-creators. This holds for a diverse range of religious traditions. Neo-liberal and (post-) modern discourses may marginalise and eliminate spirituality and creativity at a cost. Event location: Lady Goodfellow Chapel, University of Waikato, Gate 1, Knighton Rd, Hamilton.

Monday 30 September, 7:00-9:00pm: Speaker Series: “Spirituality and Modern Art” by Peter Dornauf, Artist and Art Historian. Many people think that ‘religious’ paintings, (or works of art with some spiritual inclination), ceased with the advent of modern art. 
That is far from the truth. The secular age saw a hunger for meaning as Christianity began to lose its hold, especially with the intellectual set.  This lecture will traverse that historical narrative (1860 – 2019), examining art works that exemplify, in subtle ways, the spiritual impulse.  Event location: Lady Goodfellow Chapel, University of Waikato, Gate 1, Knighton Rd, Hamilton.

page last updated 24 January 2020