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Highly Favored:
Contemporary Images of the Virgin Mary

January 3 - February 2, 2008

The story of the birth of Christ has a protagonist that makes all stories of motherhood pale by comparison: the faithful and seemingly fearless servant of God, MARY.

How does Mary as an historical person, a spiritual mentor, and a cultural image serve the contemporary church and world as a source and resource to understand and experience the interpenetration of the human and the divine?   In what ways has our image of humanity in general and woman in particular been formed and transformed by her, our reflections on her, and our images of her?   In what distinct ways does she inspire theological reflection and artistic vision in each of the three major traditions of the Church?

Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox traditions all have images of this young Jewish woman who was declared by the archangel Gabriel to be "highly favored" in God's sight.  Who exactly is Mary?   How can we recover a larger sense of her meaning through the works of contemporary artists from the Christian traditions and the reflections of contemporary thinkers from these traditions?

In 2006, Christians in the Visual Arts (CIVA) conceived a "call for entries" to bring these questions to contemporary artists. Highly Favored: Contemporary Images of the Virgin Mary is the result of this call, and the Center Art Gallery at Calvin College is proud to present it from January 3 - February 2. The exhibition includes 36 pieces by 29 artists, and was juried by Fr. Terrence E. Dempsey, S.J., a Jesuit priest and the Founding Director of the Museum of Contemporary Religious Art (MOCRA) at Saint Louis University in St. Louis, Missouri.
Grand Rapids Press (December 23, 2007) Article
Exhibition Reception - Friday, January 25, 5:30-7:30pm
Center Art Gallery - Refreshments Available in the Lower Gezon Lobby

Calvin Symposium on Worship - January 24-26
Session D18 Highly Favored: The Virgin Mary in Visual Art—Bert Polman
(registration required)
Friday, January 25, 2:15-3:15pm - Fine Arts Center
Saturday, January 26, 2:15-3:15pm - Fine Arts Center

This session will focus on the depiction of Mary, the mother of Christ, in historical and contemporary works of art. It will be held in conjunction with the Calvin College art gallery exhibit “Highly Favored: Contemporary Images of the Virgin Mary,” which is a CIVA-produced show of recent Protestant, Orthodox, and Catholic Marian art.