Monday, November 30, 2009

Got A Camera And Want To HELP? Listen Up!

Got a camera and want to help people in your community? Then you need to know about HELP-PORTRAIT. Read below for links, more how-to info, and contacts.

About H*P --

The brainchild of celebrity photographer Jeremy Cowart, Help-Portrait is a movement of photographers, coming together in every major city, to use their photography skills to give back to the community.

On December 12th, photographers around the world will be grabbing their cameras, finding people in need, and taking their picture.When the prints are ready, the photographs get delivered. Yep. It really is that easy.

And by the way, we don't want to see your photos. This is about GIVING the pictures, not taking them. These portraits are not for your portfolio, website, or for sale. Money isn't involved here. This holiday season, you have the chance to give a family something they may have never had before- a portrait together.

Our mission? Our mission at Help-Portrait is simply to equip and mobilize you. We want to make sure you have all the information that you need to successful participate in Help-Portrait on 12.12.09. We want to help you find other people in your area that are wanting to be part of Help-Portrait or have already begun to plan the event. We want you to have the opportunity to give.The best place to connect with other photographers, download important documents, and read up on some useful Help-Portrait planning tips, is our COMMUNITY SITE . Just in case you haven't seen it, here is our new video explaining the idea of Help-Portrait.

Hot and Seriously Cool: Music Mightier Than The Sword

Gonna be in New York anytime soon? The reviews coming in say there's never been anything like "Fela!" on Broadway before... Check out the rapturous New York Times review, below:

Excerpt Below // Full Article Here

There should be dancing in the streets. When you leave the Eugene O’Neill Theater after a performance of “Fela!,” it comes as a shock that the people on the sidewalks are merely walking. Why aren’t they gyrating, swaying, vibrating, in thrall to the force field that you have been living in so ecstatically for the past couple of hours?

The hot (and seriously cool) energy that comes from the musical gospel preached by the title character of “Fela!,” which opened on Monday night, feels as if it could stretch easily to the borders of Manhattan and then across a river or two. Anyone who worried that Bill T. Jones’s singular, sensational show might lose its mojo in transferring to Broadway can relax.

True, this kinetic portrait of Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, a Nigerian revolutionary of song, has taken on some starry producers — including Shawn Carter (Jay-Z) and Will and Jada Pinkett Smith — and shed 15 or 20 minutessince it was staged Off Broadway last year. But it has also acquired greater focus, clarity and intensity. In a season dominated by musical retreads and revivals, “Fela!,” which stars the excellent Sahr Ngaujah and Kevin Mambo (alternating in the title role), throbs with a stirring newness that is not to be confused with novelty.

For there has never been anything on Broadway like this production, which traces the life of Fela Kuti (1938-97) through the prism of the Shrine, the Lagos nightclub where Fela (pronounced FAY-lah) reigned not only as a performer of his incendiary songs (which make up most of the score) but also as the self-proclaimed president of his own autonomous republic.

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Intimate Ella, Rediscoverd

Looking for the perfect Christmas present for, um, yourself? This seems likely to make many a short list!

Excerpt Below // Full Article Here

WITH all the multi-disc jazz boxes that have come out in recent years — the complete Miles Davis on Columbia, the complete Charlie Parker on Savoy, the complete Duke Ellington on RCA and so on — it’s hard to believe that any significant tapes by any major musician might still be languishing undiscovered in a record company’s archives.

Yet Verve has just released “Twelve Nights in Hollywood,” a four-CD boxed set of Ella Fitzgerald singing 76 songs at the Crescendo, a small jazz club in Los Angeles, in 1961 and ’62 — and none of it has ever been released until now.

These aren’t bootlegs; the CDs were mastered from the original tapes, which were produced by Norman Granz, Verve’s founder and Fitzgerald’s longtime manager.

They capture the singer in her peak years, and at top form: more relaxed, swinging and adventurous, across a wider span of rhythms and moods, than on the dozens of other albums that hit the bins in her lifetime.

Blending Mediums: In A Museum, The Jazzman Cometh!

If by chance you happen to be in Paris anytime soon, there is an exhibit on Miles Davis which seems impossible to pass up.

Here's a snippet of what Globespotters had to say about it:

Excerpt Below // Full Article Here

Examining music in a museum space is no simple task; exhibitions about musicians tend to downplay the music itself. But “We Want Miles,” an ambitious show about the life and music of the jazz great Miles Davis, at Cité de la Musique through Jan. 17, is a remarkable exception. In this exhibition, the music is central.

The flow and form of the exhibition at Cité de la Musique (221, Avenue Jean-Jaurès; 33-1-44-84-44-84;; Métro: Porte de Pantin), in the Parc de La Villette, is infused with the spontaneous and elegant nature of the man and his music: cool and understated in all the right places. Broken into a chronological series of eras, the constant evolutions and revolutions that characterized Davis’s work are central themes.

The exhibition itself takes a hands-on approach: plug into various listening stations to experience Davis’s tunes. Or sit and lose yourself in a series of “mutes” — acoustically designed rooms, shaped like the trumpet device that Davis used to great effect, with music piped in. There’s also film of “live” concerts, some projected onto big screens.

The Jazzman Who Helped Remake Culture

After the long ThanksGiving break, we're back this morning with a number of updates - and lots of Jazz! First, a praise-filled review of Terry Teachout's new book on Louis Armstrong, "Pops".

Excerpt of Article Below // Full Article Here

With “Pops,” his eloquent and important new biography of Armstrong, the critic and cultural historian Terry Teachout restores this jazzman to his deserved place in the pantheon of American artists, building upon Gary Giddins’s excellent 1988 study, “Satchmo: The Genius of Louis Armstrong,” and offering a stern rebuttal of James Lincoln Collier’s patronizing 1983 book, “Louis Armstrong: An American Genius.”

Mr. Teachout, the drama critic of The Wall Street Journal and the chief culture critic of Commentary magazine, writes with a deep appreciation of Armstrong’s artistic achievements, while situating his work and his life in a larger historical context. He draws on Armstrong’s wonderfully vivid writings and hours of tapes in which the musician recorded his thoughts and conversations with friends, and in doing so, creates an emotionally detailed portrait of Satchmo as a quick, funny, generous, observant and sometimes surprisingly acerbic man: a charismatic musician who, like a Method actor, channeled his vast life experience into his work, displaying a stunning, almost Shakespearean range that encompassed the jubilant and the melancholy, the playful and the sorrowful.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Upcoming Retreat For Ministers Shepherding Artists

Head's up, everybody! Duke Divinity's own David O. Taylor will be leading a retreat for ministers and those in the church who feel called to shepherd artists (of various mediums). Basic information regarding the retreat is below. Also, please check out David's excellent blog "Diary of An Arts Pastor" where he discusses the event in fuller detail (alongside some beautiful pictures!).

DATE: March 4-7, 2010 (Thursday to Sunday)

SPEAKERS: Luci Shaw, David O. Taylor, Steven Purcell, and others TBA.

SPECIAL MUSICIANS: We're particularly excited to welcome Vito and Monique Aiuto, also known as The Welcome Wagon. Vito is the pastor of Resurrection Presbyterian Church in Brooklyn, NYC. Along with his wife and under the production genius of Sufjan Stevens, they produced an album of hymns, pop covers and folksy originals. Do click the link to read a full description of their work. It'll be super to have them at the retreat.

LOCATION: the Laity Lodge, just outside Kerrville, Texas. It's a gorgeous place, just ask anybody who's attended. If you want to see the middle of almost nowhere in Texas, then you'll definitely want to come.

THEME: the spiritual and artistic formation of artists.

FOR WHOM IS THIS RETREAT: for anyone who senses a call to shepherd artists. In the church. In the marketplace. In educational settings. In coffeeshops. In official and un-official capacities. This retreat is for anybody who feels a yearning to love artists and to help them grow strong and whole and holy.

WHO ATTENDED LAST TIME: Mako Fujimura (director of IAM), Brian Moss (Prayer Book Project), Duffy Lott Gibb (coordinator of arts at Regent College), Luann Jennings (director of arts at Redeemer Presbyterian, NYC), Matt Guilford (with Campus Crusade), Terri Fisher (a mom living in San Antonio who feels called to pray for artists), Troy Bronsink (senior editor, Generate magazine), Matt and Geinene Carson (directors of OM Arts Link), Adam Langley (seminarian, Baylor Truett Seminary), Lance Mansfield (brains behind the ByFor Project), Roz Dimon (Director of Communications at St. Bartholomew's Episcopal Church in NYC), Jack King (a 78-year old retired law professor), Travetta Johnson (music and arts minister at All Souls Church in Knoxville, TN) and Michael Jordan (Pastor of Music and Creative Artsat Greenwood Community Church in Castle Rock, CO). And that's only a smidgen of great people who came. We had folks from Georgia to Washington state, Iowa to California. It was a great group.

REGISTER: if you wish to join us next March, please register here.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Gugenheim Celebrates 50 Years With Kandinsky Retrospective

Just in from The Los Angeles Times, a review of the Kandinsky retrospective going on now at the Gugenheim Museum in Manhatten. Kandinsky is of special interest to New Creation because of his life-long concern with the religious dimension(s) in visual art, which he laid out explicitly in his still provocative short book, "Concerning The Spiritual In Art" (you can take a look at it on Amazon by clicking here).

Full Article Here // Excerpt Below

Reporting from New York - "Kandinsky," the big exhibition of 95 oil paintings made between 1902 and 1942 by the visionary pioneer of abstraction, Vasily Kandinsky, is a show that looks like it was made expressly for the spiral ramp of the Guggenheim Museum. That's because in a sense it was.

Solomon R. Guggenheim, the museum's founder, was a major collector of Kandinsky's art, amassing no fewer than 150 canvases in his lifetime. (He died in 1949, five years after the artist.) The work was perhaps the most profound influence on the collector's thinking about nonobjective painting, which shed direct relationships to the visible world. Kandinsky instead explored the emotive possibilities of color and form, study central to avant-garde art for the next half a century.

In 1939, a scant decade after the collector bought his first Kandinsky, he opened the Museum of Nonobjective Painting -- the precursor to today's Guggenheim. And 20 years after that, Frank Lloyd Wright's radically designed Guggenheim Museum on Fifth Avenue opened, showing just how much nonobjective art had informed a variety of advanced ideas. A powerfully expressive, light-filled void pierces the building's core.

Wright's building recently underwent a much-needed, beautifully achieved restoration. As a celebration of its 50th anniversary, the Kandinsky retrospective (running until Jan. 13) not surprisingly elicits a major "Wow."

Hip-Hop's New Steps

Next up this morning, a terrific article on a new wave breaking within Hip-Hop and the larger art/dance world(s).

Full Article Here // Excerpt Below

Julian Goins, the 15-year-old leader of the Ranger$, a five-member jerking crew, hops onto the tips of his sneakers — the Tippy Toe — and then swivels his body ground-ward, legs crossed at the ankle. He pops up like a jack-in-the-box, spins and bounces, gliding backward in the Reject, a move that resembles nothing so much as the Running Man, an ’80s dance-floor step but in reverse.

The other kids in the schoolyard pay scant attention to the star in their midst. Until his Ranger$ schedule exploded and his mother decided to home-school him, Julian was just another student.

Goofy, gentle, nimbly amateurish, jerking was little known outside certain precincts of this sprawling city until a year ago. But in the last nine months or so, jerking began an unexpected run as an Internet phenomenon.

When the New Boyz — two teenagers who had been playing high school auditoriums — released “You’re a Jerk,” the song raced up the Billboard ladder, sold 750,000 copies on iTunes and another 400,000 ring tones, provided the duo with a base for a national tour and, of course, gave rise to untold copycats.

“Jerking started off in L.A. as just a little inner-city dance,” said one of the New Boyz, Earl Benjamin, 18, known as Ben J. “We used to search for it on YouTube and we noticed it had potential to be bigger than it was. It was like when you first saw break dancing: it has so many different parts, and when you get the dance down pat, you wanted to do it all the time. It reminded you of how fun hip-hop used to be.”

Saints At A Cultural Cross-Roads

Next up this morning: A review of the painting exhibit, "The Origins of El Greco."

Excerpt Below // Full Article Here

At monasteries on Mount Athos in northern Greece, you wake in the night to the sound of Greek Orthodox monks chanting Byzantine prayers. It’s an unforgettable sound, distant and unearthly, but also inside you, like a buzz in the blood.

The painter Domenikos Theotokopoulos, better known as El Greco, almost certainly heard it growing up far to the south on the island of Crete. You can hear it today when you visit “The Origins of El Greco: Icon Painting in Venetian Crete,” a lustrous exhibition at the Onassis Cultural Center in Midtown Manhattan.

With its extraordinary ensemble of almost 50 religious images, most of them painted on Crete — seven by El Greco and some of the rest by artists whose names are not known — the show is essentially a dual-purpose visual essay. On the one hand it roughs out the texture of a specific, cosmopolitan, East-meets-West island culture. On the other it tells the story of a great artist who emerged from that culture, lived outside it and lastingly belonged to it.

Colum McCann Wins The National Book Award

Whoa, we have a lot to catch up on on this Sunday morning!

First up, a story that broke earlier this week: author Colum McCann won the prestigious National Book Award for fiction for his novel, "Let The Great World Spin." Read more about his award, other winners, as well as Gore Vidal's speech in accepting the award for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters by clicking on the "Full Article" link below.

Excerpt Below // Full Article Here

Colum McCann won the National Book Award for fiction on Wednesday night for “Let the Great World Spin,” a novel featuring a sprawling cast of characters in 1970s New York City whose lives are ineluctably touched by the mysterious tightrope walker who traverses a wire suspended between the Twin Towers one morning.

In accepting the award, the Irish-born Mr. McCann, now a teacher of creative writing at Hunter College, said, “As fiction writers and people who believe in the word, we have to enter the anonymous corners of human experience to make that little corner right.”

Saturday, November 21, 2009

At The Vatican: Pope addresses artists on "a quest for beauty"

Back on November 4th, New Creation published a post regarding an upcoming meeting of the Pope with a multitude of artists across a variety of mediums. That meeting happened today, November 21st, at the Vatican.
Read The New York Times coverage of the event, which just went live on their site.

Excerpt Below // Full Article Here

VATICAN CITY — Sitting before Michelangelo’s “Last Judgment” in the Sistine Chapel, Pope Benedict XVI on Saturday called on an audience of contemporary artists to embark on “a quest for beauty.”

Aiming to revive the age-old ties between the Catholic Church and artists — and perhaps to put a more positive face on a contentious papacy — the Vatican pulled out all the stops for more than 250 artists, architects, musicians, directors, writers and composers from around the world, but largely from Italy.

Benedict made “a cordial, friendly and impassioned appeal” to the artists, calling on them to be “fully conscious of your great responsibility to communicate beauty, to communicate in and through beauty.” He urged them, “Do not be afraid to approach the first and last source of beauty, to enter into dialogue with believers, with those who, like yourselves, consider that they are pilgrims in this world and in history.”

In an interview, Archbishop Gianfranco Ravasi, the director of the Pontifical Council for Culture who organized the event, said the aim was “to re-establish a dialogue” between the church and artists “that’s necessary and fertile for both.”

Friday, November 20, 2009

"I always say a good artwork gets inside you faster than you can blink."

First up this morning: a fantastic 3-minute photo-slideshow from Lens, the Photo-journalism blog of The New York Times, on the work of Geologist-turned-Photographer Roger Ballen. Here's to exploration in all its forms!

Watch It In Full Here // Further Description Below

Roger Ballen, 59, is a professional geologist, a “mineral explorationist.” For decades he traveled to nearly every African country looking for deposits of diamonds, clay, cobalt and coal.

“That’s what I did for 30 years,” he said. “I roamed the continent and looked for minerals, but I also always kept my eyes open for photographs.”

In the early 1980s, Mr. Ballen said, “My photography really got going when I started photographing these small towns — dorps — in South Africa.”

Before this time, many of the images Mr. Ballen had made were exteriors. In South Africa, he went indoors with his camera. “There was sort of this metaphoric movement — inside the place, inside my mind,” he said.

Trained to discover valuable deposits, Mr. Ballen exposes rich emotions in his photographs. He witnessed the goings-on at an abandoned building he called the Boarding House, located between two big mine dumps on the eastern side of Johannesburg. His aim was not only to share the story of the building or the community of residents — human and animal — within it. Instead, his haunting, cramped images offer mere clues and thwart any expectations of a clear narrative.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Live Online: A Forum On How To Measure Artists' Economic Impact

The Los Angeles Times' arts blog, "Culture Monster", reports the following this morning:

Excerpt Below // Full Article Here

On Friday the National Endowment for the Arts presents a live webcast of its daylong Cultural Workforce Forum. From 6 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Pacific Standard Time, an assortment of academics, federal bureaucrats, and staffers from private think tanks and research organizations will assemble in Washington, and in cyberspace at They'll attempt to elucidate, ponder and talk about how to broaden and improve the statistical evidence supporting the notion that what those composers, writers, painters, et al do is not just fluff and filigree, but part of the dollars-and-cents fiber of the country.

Panel topics include "What We Know About Artists and How We Know It," featuring an economics professor from Northwestern University, an executive from the AFL-CIO, and arts researchers from the NEA and Columbia University; "Putting the Research to Work"; and "Widening the Lens to Capture Other Cultural Workers."

Searching For A Joyful Noise? This Girl Has Got It!

First up this morning from The Wall Street Journal, an exciting and inspiring little piece on a young Jazz woman from the legendary writer Nat Hentoff (a prolific writer who for fifty years wrote for The Village Voice, among other publications.)

Excerpt Below // Full Article Here

For more than 60 years, I've seen recurring obituaries of jazz. The threnodies are being prepared again—in the National Endowment for the Arts' latest survey on public participation in the arts and with such questions as "Can Jazz Be Saved?" in which widely respected music critic Terry Teachout wrote regretfully in this paper last summer, "I don't know how to get young people to listen to jazz again."

Both the survey and Mr. Teachout's column attracted rebuttals in print and on the Internet, of course. But the most exhilarating one I've heard is musical— "Confeddie," the debut CD of 19-year-old alto saxophonist Hailey Niswanger, and a work with the joyous feeling of the first day of spring. More remarkable, Ms. Niswanger is still a student, at Boston's Berklee College of Music. It's an institution that continues to have many active jazz professionals among its alumni. She wrote all the arrangements for "Confeddie" in collaboration with three impressive Berklee students: Michael Palmer, Greg Chaplin and Mark Whitfield Jr.

This self-produced, self-released quartet session, which is available on, has such a vibrantly building thrust of swinging surprises that listening to it I was suddenly a Boston teenager again fantasizing, as I played my clarinet, that one day Duke Ellington would call and say, "We need a sub for Barney Bigard tonight. Can you make it?"

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

At The Nasher: Patricia Leighten on "Picasso's Experimentalism"

Have any free time this Thursday evening (Nov. 19)? If you do, try to take advantage of the opportunity to hear Patricia Leighten, professor in Duke's Department of Art, Art History & Visual Studies, give a lecture on "Picasso's Experimentalism" at The Nasher Museum of Art on Duke's campus at 6pm.

Professor Leighten was one of the leading forces behind Duke's ground-breaking collaboration with Yale
in conceiving and curating Picasso And The Allure Of Language. (on view at The Nasher until January 3, 2010. For more information: 919-684-5135)

In Romania: Faith, Art and Farmlands Coexist and Coalesce

First up this morning, an article highlighting the co-mingling of religion and the arts in Romania from The New York Times.

Excerpt Below // Full Article Here

GURA HUMORULUI, ROMANIA — The Bucovina region in the far north of the country, wrote the Romanian scholar Silviu Sanie, is “one of those blessed realms where sacred and secular monuments have enriched the enchanting natural landscape.”

During a recent week’s stay, I found this description remarkably apt.

The southern part, on the Romanian side, is a world of rolling farmland and steep forested hills, where antique villages and peasant culture coexist with new industry and modern construction. Horses and carts (and the occasional herd of cows) share the roads with SUVs, and intricately carved wood and other ornamentation still decorate many village homes and farmsteads.

Here, too, however, are religious sites far less known and rarely visited that also form important components of the region’s deeply rooted spiritual patrimony. These are the centuries-old Jewish cemeteries, whose weathered tombstones bear extraordinary carvings that meld folk motifs and religious iconography into evocative examples of faith expressed through art.

I was in the Bucovina to carry out research on Jewish tombstone art, and spent many hours photographing the richly sculpted tombstones in cemeteries in Radauti, Siret and other towns.

But, traveling by car, I was also able to visit nearly half a dozen of the painted monasteries, all of them located within an easy drive of each other.

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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

At Duke: Celebrating "The Gift of Creation"

This Thursday at Duke Divinity School, New Creation and Creation Care Connections are co-sponsoring an event to celebrate the arrival of the book The Gift of Creation: Images from Scripture and Earth by Duke Divinity's very own Norman Wirzba. The book includes beautiful images of the Earth along with essays from well known biblical and theological scholars, including another of Duke's own, Ellen Davis. There will be a dramatic reading of selected excerpts and a discussion with Dr. Wirzba and Dr. Davis. All of this will be enjoyed over free homemade soup made with natural ingredients!!

What: Discussion with Norman Wirzba and Ellen Davis (with free soup)
When: Thursday, 11/19 from 12:30-1:20
Where: Div. School 0015W
What To Bring: 1) Questions about the relationship between Creation, theology, and arts, and 2) a bowl and spoon for the soup so that we don't have to use paper plates (there will be extra bowls and spoons, so please come even if you forget to bring your own.)

In Prague: Celebrating the Velvet Revolution with exhibits, concerts

This morning, courtesy of the Associated Press, is a continuation of yesterday morning's post on the 20th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution in Czechoslovakia.

An excerpt of the Associated Press release is below // Full Article Here

PRAGUE (AP) -- With their country in deep political crisis, Czechs took to the streets throughout the country Tuesday to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the end of decades of repressive communist rule.

They will celebrate with exhibitions, concerts, speeches and rallies. Thousands of people in the capital, Prague, plan to participate in a reenactment of a student protest -- an evocation of the event that triggered the Velvet Revolution that peacefully toppled the communist regime in what was then Czechoslovakia.

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Monday, November 16, 2009

A 'Velvet Revolution' inspired by The Velvet Underground

Just up this morning from The New York Times - a fascinating piece on yet another role that music played in bringing about the fall of Communism twenty years ago in Europe. On November 9th, the twentieth anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, New Creation highlighted this piece on the role of music in inspiring those in Europe as a whole. Today we focus upon Czechoslovakia and the fall of communism there on November 17, 1989. That Revolution was dubbed "The Velvet Revolution" (because of its astounding element of non-violent protest and change --there was not a single bullet fired) and was lead by Playwright-turned-President Vaclav Havel (who popularized Billie Holiday's lyric: "The impossible will take a little while"), one of the great world figures of the last quarter of the twentieth century.

But "The Velvet Revolution" it turns out was inspired by artists such as the seminal rock 'n roll band The Velvet Underground which was lead by the legendary Lou Reed.

Read an excerpt of the article below // Article in Full Here

PRAGUE — It has been called the Velvet Revolution, a revolution so velvety that not a single bullet was fired. But the largely peaceful overthrow of four decades of Communism in Czechoslovakia that kicked off on Nov. 17, 1989, can also be linked decades earlier to a Velvet Underground-inspired rock band called the Plastic People of the Universe. Band members donned satin togas, painted their faces with lurid colors and wrote wild, sometimes angry, incendiary songs.

It was their refusal to cut their long, dank hair; their willingness to brave prison cells rather than alter their darkly subversive lyrics (“peace, peace, peace, just like toilet paper!”); and their talent for tapping into a generation’s collective despair that helped change the future direction of a nation.

“We were unwilling heroes who just wanted to play rock ’n’ roll,” said Josef Janicek, 61, the band’s doughy-faced keyboard player, who bears a striking resemblance to John Lennon and still sports the grungy look that once helped get him arrested. “The Bolsheviks understood that culture and music has a strong influence on people, and our refusal to compromise drove them insane.”

Vaclav Havel, the music-loving former Czech president and dissident who championed the band’s cause when several members were imprisoned in 1976 for disturbing the peace, credits it with inspiring Charter 77, the manifesto demanding human rights that laid the groundwork for the 1989 revolution.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Reading Lists (Part 1): Theology And/Through The Arts

Have a final paper coming down the line on theology and/through the arts and need a better idea of what books are out there in the field? Working on your own craft as an artist and looking for additional resources? Maybe you just recently heard about the up-and-coming field of theology and/through the arts and want to learn more? Or maybe you're trying to find the perfect Christmas present for someone who's interested in this field?

Well, wherever you fall on this spectrum, Duke's own Dr. Jeremy Begbie was thinking of you quite a while back when he put together this rather mountainous list of key texts on the subject! It's even subdivided into genres or mediums (Academic, Books for those new to the subject, Books on film, etc.) to help give you the perfect map to this exciting field!

Young Playwright digs up divinity out of the Bayou

In today's
New York Times, an article on perhaps the hottest young playwright in America, Tarrell Alvin McCraney, author of the acclaimed trilogy "Brother/Sister Plays."

Read an excerpt below // Full article here

TARELL ALVIN McCRANEY enters. Miami, 1980s. He is a boy growing up in the Liberty City housing projects, among the nation’s worst. He stays with his father and grandparents on some nights. They feed him peanut butter and jelly, and he is content. They are devout Baptists and fill up the boy with God’s stories, and he is content.

On other nights the boy stays with his mother. She is a crack addict with an abusive lover, with unpaid bills. Now and then the electricity is cut off. Now and then the boy is picked on by other boys for being gentle, shy, quiet. Still the boy is content; he loves his mother. She moves them to another project to give the boy a fresh start. Three years later a hurricane named Andrew hits their home, destroys everything. They return to Liberty City. The mother checks herself into rehab. Some years later, when the boy is a man of 23 and his mother is 40, she dies of an AIDS-related illness.

This is Mr. McCraney’s own story, and this is the kind of language — terse and unsentimental — that has helped make him a playwright of uncommon acclaim.

Click Here to Continue Reading

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Nasher's "Big Shots": Andy Warhol comes to Duke

This past Thursday (November 12) saw the opening of another exciting exhibit at Duke's Nasher Musuem of Art. Together with the on-going Picasso and David Roberts exhibits, The Nasher unveiled "Big Shots: Andy Warhol Polaroids"

Read below to learn more about the exhibit.

"Big Shots: Andy Warhol Polaroids" provides insight into the artist who sought to capture the world like a camera. The exhibition includes about 250 Polaroids and 70 silver gelatin black-and-white prints taken by Warhol from 1970 to 1987, many of them on public view for the first time.

The exhibit reveals an important dimension of Warhol's process in creating his famous large-scale portraits. Although his Polaroids served as aids for painting portraits, in and of themselves they are significant works and represent a relatively unknown body of Warhol's work. At the Nasher Museum, the exhibition includes his portraits of Patsy, Andrea, Joan and Nancy Nasher, accompanied by the original Polaroid studies. A selection of Warhol films from the 1960s will also be part of the exhibition, to help provide greater context for the photographic work.

"Big Shots: Andy Warhol Polaroids" is organized by the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University; the Ackland Art Museum, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; and the Weatherspoon Art Museum, University of North Carolina at Greensboro. All three institutions received gifts of about 100 original Polaroid photographs and 50 gelatin silver black-and-white prints in 2008 from the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts in celebration of the foundation's 20th anniversary.

1 Filmmaker // 23 Countries // 1 Question: "What is God?"

Film-maker Peter Rodger journeys to 23 countries to ask anyone and just about everyone a great and ancient question: "What is God?"

It's the premise to the independent film "Oh My God?" soon to be in theaters.

Short Synopsis below from the film's website:

In every corner of the world, there’s one question that can never be definitively answered, yet stirs up equal parts passion, curiosity, self-reflection and often wild imagination: “What is God?” Filmmaker Peter Rodger explores this profound, age-old query in the provocative non-fiction feature “Oh My God?”

This visual odyssey travels the globe with a revealing lens examining the idea of God through the minds and eyes of various religions and cultures, everyday people, spiritual leaders and celebrities. His goal: to give the viewer the personal, visceral experience of some kind of reasonable, meaningful definition of one of the most used--some might say overused--words in most every language.

Rodger’s quest takes him from the United States to Africa, from the Middle East to the Far East, where such fundamental issues as: “Did God create man or did man create God?, “Is there one God for all religions?” and “If God exists, why does he allow so much suffering?” are explored in candid discussions with the various Christians, Catholics, Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists and even atheists the filmmaker meets along the way.

“Oh My God?” stars Hugh Jackman, Seal, Ringo Starr, Sir Bob Geldof, Princess Michael of Kent, David Copperfield and Jack Thompson.

"Victorious Ones" // "Peaceful Conquerors"

Just in from The New York Times - a review of two U.S. exhibits centering upon the history of art in the Jain religion (a close relative - especially visually - to Buddhism).
The Jains house a tradition of exquisite sculpture and narrative painting, as one soon discovers in this article and accompanying slideshow...

Excerpt Below:

Article Here // Slideshow Here

Mohandas Gandhi, who used nonviolence as a political tool, learned a lot from the Jains. But in the West we still know little about them and even less about their art — brilliant little narrative paintings, sculptures of sleek nude saviors — which we tend to misidentify as Buddhist. Not that there’s much around to see. The last major American survey was at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in 1994, and it never came to the East Coast. Scant Jain material is on regular view in New York museums.

This fall, however, brings two Jain shows to New York: “Victorious Ones: Jain Images of Perfection” at the Rubin Museum of Art and “Peaceful Conquerors: Jain Manuscript Painting” at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Neither show is as spectacular as the Los Angeles exhibition, although the Rubin Museum one approaches it. Together they provide an in-depth survey of a great art tradition and a complex faith that has nearly five million followers in India.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Dr. Jeremy Begbie discusses "Theology Through The Arts"

This week is a busy one for us at New Creation which means we will take a day off from posting tomorrow, Wednesday (November 11), as papers and exams loom on the horizon. To make up for taking tomorrow off, we are posting a fourteen minute video interview with of one of the foremost leading figures (arguably the leading figure) in the field of theology and the arts, Dr. Jeremy Begbie (Professor at Duke University and Cambridge University, London). This multimedia piece and accompanying article, like Ross Kane's article from last Sunday, comes to us via Duke Divinity School's excellent online resource Faith and Leadership.

Continue reading below to learn more about Dr. Begbie and the interview // Click here to watch the interview in full.

++Excerpted from Faith and Leadership's "Theology Through The Arts"

Art can show us the possibility of transformation through the interplay of tradition and innovation and of order and disorder, says Jeremy Begbie, Thomas A. Langford Research Professor of Theology at Duke Divinity School.

Begbie teaches systematic theology and specializes in the interface between theology and the arts. In addition to being a musician, he is ordained in the Church of England and is director of Duke Initiatives in Theology and the Arts.

He is also senior member at Wolfson College, Cambridge, and an affiliated lecturer in the Faculties of Divinity and Music in the University of Cambridge. Previously he has been associate principal at Ridley Hall, Cambridge, and honorary professor in the University of St. Andrews, where he directed the research project Theology Through the Arts at the Institute for Theology, Imagination and the Arts.

Begbie is author of a number of books, including “Voicing Creation’s Praise: Towards a Theology of the Arts;” “Theology, Music and Time” and, most recently, “Resounding Truth: Christian Wisdom in the World of Music,” which won a Christianity Today 2008 Book Award. He has taught widely in the United Kingdom, North America and South Africa, specializing in multimedia performance-lectures.

Continue to video interview here.