Monday, September 26, 2011

Isaiah (I Know No Other Word) // Collaborative Art and Healing

By Stephanie Gehring

Excerpt below; original post here.

Mathew Crawford, a fellow student of mine, asked me to collaborate with him on an art project. His three-year-old son Isaiah died of leukemia only a few years ago, and in one of the first conversations I had with Mat, he told me he was at Duke in order to figure out how it was possible that the experience of caring for his son during that last illness had been both the most horrific and the most beautiful experience of his life. Mat is a photographer, and he said he had a photograph of Isaiah that, he felt, captured some of the power of the experience for him. For the collaboration, he printed this photograph for me on watercolor paper, and asked me to begin with that background and interpret freely.

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Monday, September 12, 2011

Do You Have a Face? Or Do You Know Someone Who Does?

As part of the arts initiative through Jo Bailey Wells and Dean Hays, artist Rachel Campbell is painting a series of portraits. She has not yet finished the series, and is taking suggestions for local people whose faces you would like to see represented on the walls of the Divinity School. This is the same general initiative as the one that's giving us Saints through the Ages, but a different project. That means you can be involved in both! Here she is in her own words:

"I am creating a body of work that reflects our world as our parish. It is particularly meaningful to me as an artist to be able to paint portraits of people who might not normally have the opportunity to have their portrait painted. It is wonderful if it is meaningful to them in some way to be included in this project. So I am sourcing people from all countries, ages, and backgrounds. If anyone in the Divinity School has someone who comes to mind that they would like to celebrate in this way, perhaps someone who is unable to participate in community life through illness....or a sweet mentor...a child, they could email me about their friend. I have 7 portraits left to do (one is not here). So obviously I will not be able to include every suggestion--people need to be aware of this--but I do welcome ideas from others. I can work from photos, but it is an added bonus if I can get to meet the person if at all possible. Each portrait will hang in an area of the Divinity school, with a small plaque beside each painting telling some of the story of the person, depending on how much they would like to disclose."

To participate, please contact Rachel Campbell at

Thursday, September 8, 2011

You Too Can Be Surrounded by Saints! In Color!

As you may have seen, there are strange angled boxes installed near the floor in the Westbrook basement hallways; on the walls above them, we hope, there will soon be paintings which the Nasher (Duke's art museum) is loaning to the Divinity School. Art committees, headed by Jo Bailey Wells, with support from Dean Hays, are taking action to cure and prevent prevalent Divinity diseases like Severe Color Deprivation, Fluorescent Anemia, and Whiteboard Alarm.

The installation of windows is not yet a part of the program, but there are several series of images that are being collected for display in Langford's long, barren hallways. One of these is called Saints through the Ages, and will include between 12 and 20 portrait-like images of saints.

Here's where you come in. 20 is a small number, given how many saints there are – and “saints” here is construed in the broadest possible sense; we will include canonized Catholic, Anglican, and other saints, but also still-living Christians, in the spirit of the New Testament "sainthood of all believers." The current count of proposed saints is nearing 100, so we need help culling, as well as researching the saints, hunting for digital images (which will be mounted on sintra boards for display), and writing up the brief introduction to each saint that will appear on a plaque below his or her image.

If you'd like to spend five minutes (or five hours) surrounded by saints for this project, we'd love your help. Please contact Stephanie Gehring,