“We Are Columbia” Exhibit Begins a Critical Conversation
February 10, 2017—The Office of Student Life and Formation at Columbia Theological Seminary is excited to announce an exhibition called “We Are Columbia” featuring photographs by Khayla Johnson, an MDiv student. The photographs located in various areas of the campus’ Broyles Leadership Center explore themes of community, difference, and the significance of visual imagery in story-telling and future-making. The exhibit is on display now through the spring term. The Columbia Seminary campus located at 701 S. Columbia Drive, Decatur, GA near Atlanta. The event is open to the public.
“The images are intentional recreations of faculty emeriti portraits hanging in the Refectory of the Richards Center. They are not intended to trivialize those portraits, but to deeply engage them through celebration and critique,” said the Rev. Brandon T. Maxwell, the Dean of Students. “When I started here at Columbia, I found that some students felt uncomfortable with the portraits staring down at them. Most of them are older white men, whereas our student body is increasingly diverse.”
Maxwell further explained that while many schools faced with similar situations have vacillated between the extreme positions of “take them down” and “leave them up”, he wanted people to know the stories and seize the opportunity for a more constructive dialogue.
“Everyone is invited to reflect on Columbia’s history. Where have we been? What stories are contained in the visual imagery around campus?” stated Khayla Johnson. “And we also want to reflect on Columbia’s future. Where are we going? How can we ensure that the visual imagery on our campus reflects our commitment to creating a community where all are welcomed, named, and heard?”
The exhibit will be part of three exercises led through the Office of Student Life and Formation. First, students, staff, and faculty may drop by the office to fill out a card identifying which emeriti portraits have been recreated. Second, the people posing in each recreation will post their own reflection about the person and story behind the original portrait. Finally, there will be a series of podcasts discussing the history and future of Columbia Seminary.
Columbia Theological Seminary is “cultivating faithful leaders for God’s changing world.” As an educational institution of the Presbyterian Church (USA), Columbia Seminary is a community of theological inquiry and formation for ministry in the service of the Church of Jesus Christ. Columbia offers six graduate degree programs and dozens of courses and events as a resource for church professionals and lay people through The Center for Lifelong Learning. For more information, please visit www.CTSnet.edu.
Director of Communications