To celebrate the Divinity School’s 2017-2018 Opening Convocation, Duke Initiatives in Theology & the Arts (DITA) hosted two days of fine art, stimulating lectures with renown historians and theologians, and an exciting musical performance that featured over thirty musicians from top orchestras in the nation.
On August 31, DITA partnered with the Nasher Museum of Art to celebrate the opening of their new exhibit, “The Medici’s Painter: Carlo Dolci and Seventeenth-Century Florence.”The evening, titled “The Patience to See: The Sights and Sounds of Carlo Dolci,” included lectures by Dr. Ben Quash and Dr. Chloe Reddaway, the premiere of “Blue Madonna,” an original composition by Dr. Jeremy Begbie, and performances from this period.
On September 1, DITA hosted a panel, “Secretaries of Praise: Poetry, Song, and Theology,” a conversation on the church and poetry. Featured speakers were Dr. David Ford, Emeritus Professor of Divinity at Cambridge University, Dr. Tom Greggs, Marischal Chair of Divinity at the University of Aberdeen, Dr. Jennie Grillo, Assistant Professor of Old Testament at Duke Divinity School, and poet Micheal O’Siadhail. The panel was moderated by Dr. Richard Hays.
The two days culminated in a concert that evening in Goodson Chapel, “Home, Away, and Home Again: The Rhythm of the Gospel in Music.” Jeremy Begbie led an ensemble of over thirty musicians of faith from the top orchestras in the United States, for an interactive and unforgettable evening. This newly created orchestra explored how music can unlock the three-fold rhythm of the Gospel: from home, to away, and then home again. The evening was a concert-for-a-purpose as well, with all proceeds going to North Street Neighborhood Corner House, a Reality Ministries community. Never before had a group of this size played in Goodson Chapel, and never had Duke Divinity woven teaching and music together like this. Audience and performers alike were invited to experience the power of music to draw us home.
DITA is pleased to announce that our next research project, Theology, Modernity, & the Visual Arts (TMVA) has received full-funding from McDonald Agape Foundation. This project is part of a larger enterprise established by DITA in 2015: Theology, Modernity, & the Arts (TMA). TMA undertakes research in three main areas: music, the visual arts, and literature.
This newly-funded visual arts stream asks: How can modern and contemporary visual art help us read modernity with Christian eyes – in particular, with minds and hearts attuned to the scriptural vision of the New Creation in Christ? In the context of a world increasingly reliant on the communicative power of the visual arts, this project aims to help us examine this common language with maximum nuance and integrity, while at the same time holding onto the possibility of what Rowan Williams describes as a “world being interrupted and transfigured by revelation.”
This new phase of the TMA project will examine four expressions of the relationship between the visual art and Christianity in our modern context:
This new TMVA project will be directed by Professor Ben Quash at the Centre for Arts and the Sacred at King’s College London, where he runs the Christianity and the Arts Masters program in collaboration with the National Gallery of London. This is a unique partnership between a theology department and an international arts museum.
At the core of this research enterprise will be a series of public conferences at four major galleries in the United Kingdom, the United States, and continental Europe. At each conference, a group of scholars and theologians will engage in intensive dialogue, both with each other and with a wider community of art critics, curators, and art historians.
This kind of interdisciplinary and collaborative scholarship linking Church, academy, and major art institutions represents another major step forward in DITA’s mission to ignite a vibrant dialogue between theology and the arts.
DITA is grateful to the McDonald Foundation and all the participants of the TMVA project for their visionary leadership and support of this boundary-crossing initiative.
Dr. Ben Quash
Ben Quash grew up in County Durham and Monmouthshire. He read English as an undergraduate at Cambridge, and then (as a second degree, whilst in training for ordination at Westcott House) theology. Doctoral work on the theological dramatic theory of Hans Urs von Balthasar combined these literary and theological interests. He was Chaplain and Fellow of Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge, and a lecturer in the Cambridge Theological Federation from 1996-1999, then returned to Peterhouse as Dean and Fellow until he came to King’s as Professor of Christianity and the Arts in 2007. From 2004-2007 Ben Quash was also Academic Convenor of the Cambridge Inter-Faith Programme in the University of Cambridge’s Faculty of Divinity, developing research and public education programmes in Judaism, Christianity and Islam and their interrelations – and indulging a delight in Scriptural Reasoning. His publications include Introducing Christian Ethics (with Samuel Wells) and Heresies and How to Avoid Them: Why It Matters What Christians Believe (with Michael Ward).
Duke Initiatives in Theology and the Arts partnered with the Nasher Museum of Art and Duke Chapel to host an exhibition of Miserere et Guerre, a series of 58 intaglio prints by French artist Georges Rouault (1871–1958). From March 5 through April 6, during the Lenten season, Duke Chapel displayed images from the series that unmask human duplicity and self-deception through the lens of Christ’s passion and suffering. The Nasher’s tandem installation, on display from March 18 through July 23, highlights scenes that illustrate the plight of refugees and the devastations of war.
To celebrate the Divinity School’s 2016-2017 Opening Convocation, Duke Initiatives in Theology and the Arts (DITA) hosted Call and Response: Two Days of Theology and the Arts. The events included a poetry reading interspersed with musical responses, a panel on visual art and the call to ministry, and a culminating event featuring nine principal musicians from five national orchestras and Duke University.
On March 30 Duke Divinity School held an installation ceremony for a commissioned painting by artist Bruce Herman. The painting, “Riven Tree,” is based on the resurrection of Jesus and hangs in the school’s York Room.
In March of 2016, Duke Initiatives in Theology and the Arts welcomed its second artist-in-residence, Bruce Herman, to Duke March 1-10 and March 28-30. Herman is the Lothlórien Distinguished Chair in Fine Arts at Gordon College in Wenham, Mass. His art has been exhibited widely in North America, Europe, Hong Kong, and Japan.
For Holy Week in 2015, Duke Initiatives in Theology and the Arts (DITA) partnered with King’s College Chapel, Cambridge for their annual Easter at King’s. The week was the third festival DITA has participated in through the Duke-Cambridge Collaboration, which began in 2009. Featured were DITA collaborations with composer James MacMillan, theologian and author Lord Rowan Williams, pianist Cordelia Williams, poet Micheal O’Siadhail, and painters Makoto Fujimura and Bruce Herman.
On March 4, Karin Coonrod gave a lecture entitled, “Hound Dog on a Scent: Flannery O’Connor’s Words in the Theatre Space” as part of the Duke Initiatives in Theology and the Arts (DITA) Distinguished Lecture Series. Coonrod spoke about her experience adapting and directing O’Connor’s short story “Everything Rises Must Converge” for the stage and illustrated her comments with video clips from a 2009 production of the play in Rome. After the lecture, attendees had the opportunity to ask questions about the challenges Coonrod faced in translating O’Connor’s work for theatre as well as explore the theological and aesthetic implications made possible by a different medium.