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Events and Learning Cohorts

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PRESENCE—God in the Modern Wing (Reception and Lecture)

Fri 09.17.21 @ 6:00 PM CDT

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6:00 PM  I  Reception and Refreshments

6:45 PM  I  Lecture by Bruce Herman

Responses by Steve Prince and Leah Samuelson


For more than a century and a half, leading art historians and critics have argued that art and Christian religion have parted company. It is well-established that the Christian narrative profoundly informed and inspired the visual arts for almost two millennia. And many correctly observe that, with the advent of Modernism, this religious influence waned. A more considered view, however, is that the keen pursuit of spirituality and transcendence never entirely fled the scene. 


At its best, art embodies and gives voice to feelings, experiences, and aspirations that elude easy articulation. And in its worst moments, art can be utterly nihilistic. Nonetheless, visual art that is layered with meaning and nuance can still evoke a sense of transcendence. That is, even apart from traditional religious narratives and icons, art frequently evokes wonder and even worship.


The condition of contemporary Christianity further complicates the matter. When genuine belief is, in some circles, reduced to thin platitudes and doctrinaire affirmations, the “bright abyss” of transcendence can be easy to miss. In our secular age, many have left the church hoping to find meaning in other places, not least nature and the art world.


In its examination of form and content, Modern Art defies easy classification. And yet, modern artists and the objects they create often communicate the realities of human being and its quest for the divine in a striking manner. Is there a place for “God” in the modern museum or, like some forms of contemporary Christianity, does it lack the means to draw us closer to those realities we long for—the evidence of our place and value in an extraordinary universe, our belovedness, the radical beauty of a transcendent God?  


Join co-editors, Cameron Anderson and G. Walter Hansen, along with artists and book contributors, Bruce Herman, Steve Prince, and Leah Samuelson, for rich conversation and the book-launch of God in the Modern Wing  (2021, InterVarsity Press).

Event Type

In-Person with Online Option. (The week before the event, we will email you to learn if you plan to attend in-person or online.)

Speaker Bios

Bruce Herman is a painter, speaker, and curator living and working north of Boston. Herman’s art has been shown nationally in all major cities in the United States and internationally in Italy, England, Japan, and Hong Kong. His work is in many public collections, including the Vatican Museums in Rome, Cincinnati Museum of Fine Arts, Hammer Museum in L.A., and many regional museum and university collections. His art and writings have been published in print and online journals, and in a major thirty-year retrospective, which is the subject of Through Your Eyes (2013). Herman holds the Lothlórien Distinguished Chair in Fine Arts at Gordon College.


Steve A. Prince is assistant professor of art at Wayne State University. A native of New Orleans, Louisiana, he currently resides in Detroit, Michigan. Prince received his BFA from Xavier University of Louisiana and his MFA in printmaking and sculpture from Michigan State University. He is represented by Zucot Gallery in Atlanta, Georgia. Prince has created several public works, including an eight-by-eight foot mixed media work titled Lemonade: A Picture of America at the College of William and Mary, commemorating the first three African American resident students at the college in 1967.


Leah Samuelson is a community artist who works with collaborative painting and mosaic processes. She specializes in the role of the arts in society specifically regarding the evolving relationships between arts and their audiences. She is a former instructor of Drawing and Community Art at Wheaton College. Her undergraduate degree is in Studio Art from Wheaton with a concentration in Drawing, and her graduate degree is in Urban Studies: Arts in Transformation from Eastern University.








Fri 09.17.21
6:00 PM CDT
Event Category:


Upper House
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Madison, WI 53715 United States
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