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R5: A Visual Arts Seminar and Studio in South Africa

Why might might you want to do this?

To re-vision Christianity’s cultural message 

Conveying Christian angles of vision in the arts has a long tradition in Europe and its overseas settlements, but in an increasingly post-Christian West, the faith’s artists face a huge challenge to do something fresh and potent. There are signs among some western artists, a New York Times reviewer recently said, that "Christian faith and artistic ambition can still be a combustible mixture," but the Christian artistic community in the West cannot help but wonder whether the old wells of inspiration are running dry. Their faith tradition has lost much of its prior hold on their culture’s imagination. 

To see Christianity in fresh ways

Christianity has become a world religion, with the great majority of its adherents living outside of Europe and North America. Christians in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Pacific region are producing fresh artistic vision and achievements. "The Christian Story: Five Asian Artists Today," an exhibit in 2007 at the Museum of Biblical Art (MOBIA) in New York, offered powerful expressions of Christian vision by creatively combining Asian traditions, western artistic languages, and a biblical imagination. The visual arts have become powerful means for Christians worldwide to express heartaches and hope, justice and reconciliation, and the gospel's witness for peace. 

To experiment with new themes and material

What might it mean, then, for Western Christian artists to discover that their faith is predominantly non-Western? Might Christianity's creative interplay with African art, religion and culture excite some new approaches in the West as well? That is what we hope this project can do. We are looking for some adventurous Christian artists and art educators, who are eager to see new things, experiment with new approaches, and become stronger agents of renewal in the North American and Southern African art worlds.


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May 31–June 15, 2013

Seminar Location

Johannesburg and Cape Town, South Africa

Seminar Leaders

Artistic Director
Rachel Smith
Taylor University

South African Artistic Coordinator
Charles Nkomo of Johannesburg

Group visits and dynamics
Robert and Alice Evans Plowshares Institute

Administrative director
Joel Carpenter
Calvin College

Application deadline

January 15, 2013
(North American candidates)

January 31, 2013 (Southern African candidates)


Donna Romanowski

Organized by the Nagel Institute for the Study of World Christianity with the endorsement of the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU) and The Lilly Fellows Program in Humanities and the Arts

With major support from
Walter and Darlene Hansen
The Calvin Center for Christian Scholarship
John and Mary Loeks
The Joan L. and Robert C. Gilkison Family Foundation
The Lilly Fellows Program in Humanities and the Arts

Seminar Brochure