Faith and the Arts

Current Art Exhibitions

Witness to Faith: The Biblical Art of Sadao Watanabe

The Center for Lifelong Learning at Columbia Theological Seminary is hosting a new exhibit, Witness to Faith: The Biblical Art of Sadao Watanabe, featuring original works of graphic art by Japan’s foremost Christian artist of the 20th century. The exhibit is on display now through April 25, 2016.

Born in 1913, Watanabe was baptized as a Christian at age 17 and devoted his life to depicting the stories of the Bible in a visual language understandable to the Japanese. Watanabe saw himself as a Christian printmaker whose mission was “to stand within the artistic tradition of Japan.” In his interpretations, the creatures entering Noah’s Ark correspond to the animal signs of the Asian zodiac; Jesus and his disciples wear kimonos and gather at the Last Supper to eat fish and drink sake.

Watanabe found inspiration in the mingei folk art movement that developed in Japan in the mid-1920s to promote traditional handcrafts made from natural materials. Working with his wife, Harue, Watanabe cut all his stencil patterns by hand and printed his images on handmade paper, coloring them with vegetable and mineral pigments.

He created small biblical scenes on untreated sheets of washi Japanese paper and large folio-sized prints on momigami wrinkled paper, made by crumpling and stretching sheets of mulberry paper to create a textured surface. Examples of both types of prints can be seen in the exhibition along with Christmas cards and calendars with print reproductions that Watanabe authorized for publication each year.

Watanabe’s stencil prints can be found in the permanent collections of the British Museum, New York’s Museum of Modern Art, The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, the National Museum of Modern Art in Tokyo, and the Vatican Museum of Modern Religious Art. His chief desire was for his biblical prints to be seen in variety of public places by as broad an audience as possible.

The exhibit is on display on the second floor of the Harrington Center through April 25. It is open to the public during regular office hours (8:30 – 4:30 PM, Monday –Friday). Arrangements to view the exhibit at other times may be made by contacting the Center for Lifelong Learning at 404-687-4577 or


Past Art Exhibitions

Jim Crane Cartoons: A Retrospective

The Center for Lifelong Learning currently features an exhibit of the thought-provoking, prophetic cartoons of James G. (Jim) Crane. Coming on the heels of the Charlie Hebdo tragedy, the exhibit will give viewers the occasion to reflect upon the evolution of the significance of the political cartoon.

Crane had a multi-faceted career as a fine artist, print media cartoon cartoonist, designer, illustrator and educator. His cartoons were published in the 1950’s and 60’s in motive magazine, a Methodist publication that was for years perhaps the most visually interesting, graphically sophisticated, and innovative religious journal in the world. His cartoons became a hallmark of motive, along with drawings, cover designs, illustrations, and an occasional piece of creative writing. Crane’s cartoons also appeared in Ave Maria magazine and United Church Herald, and were published in four collections:What Other Time (Source Publishers, 1953), On Edge (John Knox Press, 1965), The Great Teaching Machine (John Knox Press, 1966), and Inside Out (Harper & Row, 1967). Crane wrote Parables, published by John Knox Press in 1971, and he has illustrated ten other books.

Cardboard Chronicles: The Biblical Art of Rudolph Bostic

The Center for Lifelong Learning began the new year with Cardboard Chronicles: The Biblical Art of Rudolph Bostic. The exhibit brought together twenty-three paintings from one of America’s most amazing self-taught artists. His vibrant images, rendered in enamel and house paint with a shimmering glossy finish on cardboard and his flamboyant use of color put him in a category all his own.

Rudolph, who lives in Savannah, Georgia, says that his inspirations come from many sources, “especially the Bible and reproductions of the works of the masters such as Rembrandt, Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo.” Bostic’s work was featured in the 2005 inaugural exhibition of the Hurn Museum of Contemporary Folk Art in Savannah, GA, and his art is in the permanent collection of the High Museum in Atlanta, GA. Some of the most prestigious southern galleries of folk art represent Bostic’s paintings.

Poetry, Art, and the Spirituality of Imagination: A Lenten Meditation

The Center for Lifelong Learning marked the 2014 Lenten season with Poetry, Art, and the Spirituality of Imagination: A Lenten Meditation. This exhibit combined Scripture, poetry, and the ink drawings of Israel Galindo, Associate Dean. The exhibit was on view at the Harrington Center from February 28 through May 17.

“For several years my daily devotional practice involved reading Scripture and poetry with meditation on the text of both,” says Galindo. “Later I incorporated sketching as part of the daily discipline oflectio divina. These ink drawings are a result of that practice.”

Each drawing was accompanied by poetic texts. The viewer was invited to view the art as a response to the poetry, and consider his or her own response.  A Lenten study guide was available as well.

Contemporary Expressions of Western Christian Spirituality

The Center for Lifelong Learning presents the photography of alumna Katie Archibald-Woodward,inspired by the Lifelong Learning course, Western Christian Spirituality taught by professor emerita Catherine Gonzalez.

“Michelangelo’s frescoes of heavenly scenes spread across  grand ceilings and walls, and exquisite Biblical characters chiseled  magnificently in marble enliven my soul and awaken me to the divine.   Equally influential are the gorgeous illuminated paintings of Caravaggio. His  masterful use of the chiaroscuro (lit. “light and dark”) technique make  the Word come to life in his painting, The Taking of Christ, in which he  captures the haunting glow of that dreadful night when Judas’ kiss sent Jesus  to his death…although you will find no signs of plaster, pigment or brushes  here, perhaps you will be struck by God’s glorious creativity captured through  a camera lens, playfully painted in a Swiss sunset one September evening (ref. Holy  Spirit).  And though there are no oil paints or canvasses here either,  perhaps you will notice the chiaroscuro-like banter of light and dark in a  peculiar portrayal of the nativity scene (ref. Come and See),” said Woodward.

“By no means is the title of this exhibit intended to limit  these expressions as belonging solely to a western Christian, but rather my  hope is these photographs reflect the experience of one contemporary Christian  from the West.  You will also notice many of the photographs were not  taken in “western” countries, but rather span a wide swath of locales,  cultures, and expressions.  The images are intended to convey my  impressions of the contemporary era in which we live — one with expansive  access to the world and increasing opportunities to be influenced by and  reconnected with the lands across the globe — all of God’s creation;  God’s Word made visible throughout the earth.”

Katie’s photography is not only a joy-filled passion, but a  form of ministry.  She hopes her photographs will help others experience  the visible Word of God (visio divina) captured in the beauty and  diversity of creation.  Katie also hopes others, like she, will be revived  with a sense of wonder and delight for God’s marvelous work and in turn become  more connected to God, each other, and creation.

Visitors are welcome to view the exhibit between 8:30 AM – 4:30 PM, Monday – Friday. For more information about the exhibit, call 404-687-4577 or e-mail

The Breath of God: An Invitation to Embody Holy Wisdom

”In 2001, Julie Hliboki began studies in Sound Therapy. Julie comments, “As my education progressed, I combined my exploration of sound and vibration with my contemplative practice of toning, prayer, and meditation. During this process, I began to experience visions of beautiful mandalas, and then captured their energy and vibrational patterns on paper with watercolor, much like a photograph captures light. These mandalas are a gift to me, which I share with you. I understand their purpose to be for blessing and healing those who interact with them.”

Our word ‘mandala’ comes from the Sanskrit word for circle. The circle is a unifying structure visible throughout our natural world. A mandala represents wholeness, and may be viewed as a model for the organizational structure of life itself – a cosmic diagram that reminds us of our relation to the infinite, the world that extends both beyond and within our bodies and minds. Traditionally, mandalas incorporate symmetry and geometric patterns, often rosettes. Similar natural images include spider webs, the petals of a rose, or a spiral galaxy.

Julie’s work is displayed in the Harrington Center through the beginning of August.

Do You See What I See?

This exhibit featuring the work of photojournalist Erin Dunigan was held in the winter and spring of 2012. Erin Dunigan’s work has taken her around the world, as she seeks to focus attention on stories of people and everyday life in places that may be geographically far away, but which, in their humanity, can connect us. Ordained as a Presbyterian evangelist, she says, “Photography, at its most basic, is really about paying attention. It can be spiritual practice, a way of awakening to the present moment. Yet it is also about sharing that vision with others, as we seek to see not only what is but what is possible.”Born and raised in Southern California, Dunigan has lived in New Jersey, as well as St. Andrews, Scotland. She now spends much of her time in a small costal community in Baja California, Mexico.

Inspiration: Spiritual Dimensions of Fabric Art

This collection of artwork, all using fabric in some fashion, was featured in the spring and summer of 2011. The work is by CTS alumna Mary Jane Petersen, who has been making fabric art since she took a two-week workshop at Penland School of Crafts in N. C. in 1996. Martha Jane regards her art as a form of ministry, a visual proclamation of the Gospel. She therefore does not sell her work, although she was commissioned by Montreat Conference Center to create and hang a 5’ x 7’ quilt for Assembly Inn in 2009. Some people feed hungry bodies; it is her deepest desire to feed hungry spirits through her art. Ordained a Presbyterian minister in 1987, Martha Jane holds the D.Min and Th.M degrees from Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, GA. Now retired in Black Mountain, NC, she and her husband pastor a tiny church nearby.

Icon to Iconic

The popularity of spiritual and religious icons seen in everyday life presented through art is the focus of the “Icon to Iconic.” The pieces highlight traditional and modern views of church architecture and symbols. The Artist Trifecta Gallery located in downtown Atlanta presented this exhibit of local artists. Blake Burton, one of the gallery’s exclusive artists, provided the image featured on the cover of the fall 2010 issue of VANTAGE, a publication of the seminary. Three of Mr. Burton’s pieces were exhibited along with those of Philip Myrick, JC Pinto; Blayne Beacham, Amanda Brown, and Shane Garner. For more information, contact gallery owner, Amanda Brown at 404-388-8757 or The Artist Trifecta Gallery, a unique Atlanta art experience, is located at 106 Walker Street SW, Atlanta, GA 30313.

Boundary Crossings: Neighbors Strangers Family Friends, the Charis (from the Greek for gift or grace) international traveling art exhibit, include about 40 works by seven Asian and seven North American artists. The artwork includes paintings, sculptures, assemblage, fiber constructions, installation, and video projections. The exhibit explores boundary-crossing questions. In our visually-oriented world – with its convergence of cultures – what are the implications for Christian faith and artistic practice? How can people of faith address real-world issues of social justice, peace, reconciliation? How do we live with a spirit of grace toward our neighbor, wherever we live? The exhibit is the outgrowth of these artists’ participation in a two-week immersive seminar in Indonesia during the summer of 2008. Columbia Seminary is one of several venues the exhibit will visit across North America, before heading to Asia in 2012.

Flamebodies, an exhibit of digital photographic prints by Pamela Cooper-White, the Ben G. and Nancye Clapp Gautier Professor of Pastoral Theology, Care, and Counseling at Columbia Seminary. May – November 2009.

Celtic Art, featuring the work of Cynthia Matyi. Her art incorporates ancient Celtic motifs and contemporary themes of peace, renewal, ecology, and creativity. An exhibit of her paintings will be in the Harrington Center on the seminary campus from January to March 2009.

Lost Southern Churches, featuring black and white silver photographs of outdoor baptismal fonts, exteriors and interiors of lost southern churches by Dana Matthews.Matthews took most of the photographs in Hale County, Alabama in the summer of 1991. She said that near the end of the project she realized how important it was to record this vanishing southern tradition when the baptismal fonts became scarce and very hard to find. Through September 30, 2008

Hearing With Your Eyes! Visual Revelations of Parables, an exhibit by Atlanta artist Samuel O. Williams in Fall, 2007.

Blessed Feet, a juried exhibit in the Spring of 2006, featured visual arts based on two passages of scripture. Isaiah 52:7: “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of the messenger who announces peace, who brings good news, who announces salvation, who says to Zion, ‘Your God reigns.’” John 13 tells the story of Jesus washing the feet of his disciples during his last supper with them before his death. “Blessed Feet” entries were invited to make visible the meanings found in either, or both, of these passages.
For this exhibit, artists were invited to submit paintings, fabric arts, photography, sculpture and metal or wood works. We sought entries that have visual impact and were spiritually engaging.

In Search of the Cross, Fall of 2005, a series of 28 black and white photographs by Atlanta artist Chuck Douglas. This exhibit displayed the cruciform shape as it appears in our daily landscapes and lives.

Election, works by painters, sculptors, photographers, collage artists. October 1-November 15, 2004.

Summer, works by six women artists: Ann Bryan, Dana Hughes, Martha Jane Peterson, Ruth Marley, Ellen Cavendish Phillips, Charlotte Riley-Webb. July 15-September 15, 2004.

Works by Raymond B. Cody, an Atlanta artist whose depictions of dance and music are filled with action and deep expression. February 1 – March 15, 2003.

The City, an exhibition of photographs, engaging various aspects of the city and city life. October 1 – November 16, 2002.

Mourning and Dancing, works by 23 artists. April 8 – May 21, 2002.

The Multi-Racial Bible Project, work by Charles Barbier, Anne Brink, Malaika Favorite, and Luz Maria Lyles. February – March 2002.