The Henry Luce III Center for Arts and Religion nurtures and guides students, churches, and artists exploring the intersection of the arts and theology. Its inviting Dadian Gallery serves as a meeting place for both contemplative reflection and communal celebration, playing host to compelling one-of-a-kind shows and spiritually themed exhibitions. A long standing Artist-in-Residence program offers seminary students hands-on-training in a variety of artistic traditions, while also providing artists with shared studio space and a spiritual home well suited to vital art making. By producing dramatic works, concerts, artist talks, poetry readings, dance workshops, symposia, and other special events, the Center for the Arts and Religion seeks to promote dialogue between artists and theologians, and to foster inspired creativity in all forms of ministry.
The day after she graduated from Wesley in 1979 with a Master in Theological Studies degree, Catherine Kapikian marched into the dean’s office and proposed the establishment of an artist-in-residence at the seminary. J. Phillip Wogaman, then dean, and President Jack Knight responded to her thesis that without the arts, "theological education was truncated" by assigning a modest space under the chapel as a studio. They also appointed her to teach a two-credit course in the visual arts. And it was then, says Catherine, "that I was surprised to realize I had a ministry in the arts on my hands."
Using phrases such as "visual theological proclamation" and "authentic engagement with the creative process," Catherine tells about the enthusiastic response to the studio and to her art history course titled "Catacombs to Citicorp." After that first year, the administration was impressed enough to move the studio to the large, central space it now occupies. Thus, the arts studio with its open-door policy became an established presence on the Wesley campus. When Douglas Lewis arrived as president in 1983, he embraced the arts enthusiastically. After considering initiatives that Catherine submitted, he called her to say that he wanted to establish a Center for the Arts and Religion and to ask her if she would direct it.
The next major step in the consolidation of the presence of the arts at Wesley came in 1985. In an overhaul of the curriculum, the faculty, convinced of the role that the imagination can play in theological education, made the critical commitment of requiring each student to take two credits in the arts.
By the end of the 1980s, the administration made available space for a formal gallery where works done at the intersection of art and religion could be lifted up. Arthur Dadian contributed a major gift that was matched by the seminary for the creation of a state-of-the-art gallery. Named the Dadian Gallery in his honor, it completed the three-part presence of the arts at Wesley - the studio with its resident artists, the courses, and the exhibit space.
It was always Catherine’s hope to include other arts. Since 1988 when drama was added to the curriculum, dance and literature have joined the rich and varied offerings in the arts alongside the long established music program.
The history of the Center for the Arts and Religion cannot be fully told without acknowledging the tremendous benefit that has been derived from the infusion of three Luce Foundation grants. These have not only enabled a deepening and an expansion of the program, they have been an affirmation to those pioneers, Catherine Kapikian and Douglas Lewis, that others saw the value of their enterprise.
Under Dean Douglas Meeks in the 1990s, the academic work of the center was consolidated into the curriculum as the Program in Theology and the Arts. And here the history pauses before the next adventurous phase that will inevitably emerge. For art carries within it its own God-given creative energy and momentum.
The day after she graduated from Wesley in 1979 with a Master in Theological Studies Degree, Catherine Kapikian "marched into the Dean’s office" and proposed the establishment of an artist-in-residence at the seminary. J. Phillip Wogaman, then Dean, and President Jack Knight responded to her thesis that without the arts, "theological education was truncated" by assigning a modest space under the chapel as a studio. They also appointed her to teach a two credit course in the visual arts. And it was then, says Catherine, "that I was surprised to realize that I had a ministry in the arts on my hands."
Using phrases like "visual theological proclamation" and "authentic engagement with the The Wesley Collection consists primarily of artworks that have been given to us by over thirty years of Artists-in-Residence. Other works have been donated by artists who have exhibited in our Dadian Gallery, and wanted to leave an example of their work with us permanently. The collection includes photographs, prints, drawings, paintings, and textiles as well as artists’ books, raku vessels, and sculpture in terra-cotta, bronze, and other media. Most of the Collection is on display in offices, hallways, and classrooms, and other places where the Wesley community and our visitors can enjoy the varied ways that artists have responded to their time with us.
The Arts in Religious and Theological Studies
is a journal published by the theology and the arts program at United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities. The journal treats broadly the intersection between theology and the arts.
Christians in Theater Arts
has been organized to give Christians a continent-wide support network of other believers who are also theatre artists.
Christians in the Visual Arts
is the premiere visual arts organization connecting the artist, the Church, and culture.
Network of BIblical Storytellers, Intl
is an international organization whose purpose is to communicate the sacred stories of the bible tradition.
The Sacred Dance Guild
promotes sacred dance as prayer, and as a means of spiritual growth, connection to the Divine, and integration of mind, body, and spirit.
The Society for the Arts in Religious
and Theological Studies,
an academic society of scholars and practitioners of religious studies and the arts.
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