Renowned scholars and artists return to campus for seminal work on Sacred Arts

A group of renowned scholars and artists took part in a three-day symposium over the weekend at St. Vladimir’s Seminary as they worked to explore sacred arts both in historic and new, possibly groundbreaking ways.

The symposium builds on an earlier meeting at St. Vladimir’s Seminary in 2016 and continues the efforts of the seminary’s Sacred Arts Initiative (SAI), which is funded by a grant from the Henry Luce Foundation. Dr. Peter C. Bouteneff, the seminary’s professor of Systematic Theology and director of the SAI, coordinated the symposium, along with Dn. Evan Freeman, seminary alumnus and Ph.D. candidate in the Department of the History of Art at Yale University, and Richard Schneider, professor of Iconology and Hermeneutics at the seminary.

“’Sacrality,’ ‘the sacred,’ ‘arts,’ and ‘Sacred Arts’ show up in a lot of different fields and disciplines, often without definition…and a lot of these terms are taken for granted,” said Dn. Evan. “So, what we wanted to do was to try to bring a truly interdisciplinary group of scholars and artists [together] to discuss this.”

Among those presenting papers were historians of Byzantine and Armenian art and architecture Charlie Barber, Annemarie Weyl Carr, and Christina Maranci; musicologist Peter Jeffery; musicologist and theologian Margot Fassler; Orthodox priest, composer, conductor, and musicologist Ivan Moody; iconographer George Kordis; poet Nicholas Samaras, theologian and Roman Catholic priest Richard Viladesau; and Professor Schneider.

“Getting scholars and practitioners of this caliber to reflect on fundamental themes isn’t easy,” said Dr. Bouteneff. “It is a testimony to the level and character of the people assembled here that they contributed so thoughtfully, enthusiastically, and brilliantly, to the theme of sacredness in the arts. We realized together that we have here the potential of offering something new and useful to Christian reflection on theology and the arts."

Dr. Bouteneff added that one of the goals of the Sacred Arts Initiative is the future publication of a book based on the papers presented at this recent symposium.

Related Stories: