This week I am back in Minot working on a print project for MSU's centennial celebration. It's another hybrid print...digital, litho, and silkscreen. Here is a sneak peek at the digital base. There are 3 similar prints highlighting the academic, athletic, and student lives of MSU.
With the NABPR and CTS conference in the books it is time to transition to my project for the CIVA Just Art conference at Wheaton. In just over a week I will be heading out to join other scholars, artists, ministry professionals to explore the roles of faith, justice and the arts. It looks to be a great conference with exhibitions, quality presenters and presentations.
As I often do, I tend to bite off more than I can realistically chew. I love conferences in theory (and in actuality as well once my responsibilities for it are over). I hate passing up opportunities to present my research so when the call for papers came I waited until the last moment to throw my proposal out there. With the exhibition last week and Maymester the two previous weeks, the paper has sat dormant for some time. Thankfully I did have some time to work on it at the CTS conference while I was attending to the gallery.
My paper will explore the thought of Johann Baptist Metz, a German Catholic political theologian and use his thoughts to engage the work of recent Guggenheim recipient Daniel Heyman. The papers (for good and ill) are only 15 minutes...which actually makes it quite a bit harder to layout Metz' project and make coherent connections to Heyman. But it is exciting to actually be writing this paper that came to mind last year at the CTS conference in San Antonio. In the coming days, I will post briefly about my progress and overall thoughts on their work. Stay tuned...
Formation Matters takes its name from a simple, but evocative play on words. If taken literally, the phrase suggests the relevant topics or concerns relating to formation. Rhetorically however, the phrase implies the overall importance of formation. In a third turn of the phrase, it also hints at the substance or physicality of the artists’ creations through which viewers engage the initial two turns of the phrase.*
This plurality of meaning allows for the same in the directions of work chosen for the exhibit. While all the artwork in some way deals with memory and tradition, it also embodies a variety of conceptual approaches. Both Donovan Widmer and Patrick Luber investigate the dynamic and formative relationships between religion and culture. Whereas Katelyn Reiter and Mary Kocal explore the power of family narratives within their own lives. My own work, and that of Cherith Lundin, raises questions about the ambiguities and possible loss of traditions. Micah Bloom’s recent work on the 2011 Minot flood haunts the space between these two positions as a metaphor by regarding his childhood formation and the passing of the paper book. Additionally, while all artists work from particular traditions and influences, be it media or school, John Kaericher’s work often makes explicit visual ties to his mentors.
In these ways, the exhibit offers another voice into the conference conversations. Building around the theme of Teaching Theology and Handing on the Faith, the exhibition is rooted in the belief that the visual arts can be remarkable catalysts within these conversations, as well as profound symbols and mediations of the Divine. While the church has historically drawn upon the devotional and didactic potential of art, the engagement and contemplation of contemporary art allows divergent points of affirmation and provocation of its traditions.
*The beginning is a modification of Liz Well's introduction to her wonderful text, Land Matters
After a very busy day yesterday with a lot of help from my niece Brittany, the exhibition is up and looks great. The conference starts this evening with the first plenary speaker and people have been trickling into campus. I am so thankful to CTS & Creighton for allowing me this little artistic experiment within a theological conference. I am also in debt to the artists who have shared their work with me and made this a great looking exhibition.
I have put together a hastily edited and unedited collection of images from the show into a gallery below. I will update names and piece titles when I have more time.
Today I am packing the artwork for the Formation Matters exhibition that I have curated for joint meetings of the College Theology Society (CTS) and the National Association of Baptist Professors of Religion (NABPR). This exhibitions represents the culmination of years (since CTS's meeting at Regis in Denver in 2006) thinking and discussions on how to include art into the conference discussions. Back in 2006 the theme was on art and beauty (a natural connection to host an exhibition) but alas no actual visual connection was made beyond the standard conference presentators and presentations (of which I was one).
The Arts Media Literature and Religion section does a wonderful job at providing a venue for discussing such matters. My hope with the exhibition is to dovetail this group and offer a first hand, or primary source, kind of opportunity for conference goers to connect their research and thoughts to the work and vice-a-versa. This year's conference theme is Teaching Theology and Handing on the Faith: Challenges and Convergences. For the exhibition, I have chosen for focus the chosen work on ideas of memory, tradition, and formation (I will say more about these areas in the coming days).
As I mentioned, I have talked to CTS folks about this for a few years now and I am so excited to see it come to fruition. I am so thankful for Creighton and CTS for allowing me to experiment with this little venture. Over the course of the week, I will be posting more updates, information on the artists, and images from the gallery.
First off, these are not my thoughts but I really appreciate and agree with Bill Caraher's comments and so have decided to repost them. In many ways, as I look back on my time in graduate school, particularly my 2nd round, I unconsciously followed many of these tips. Also, if you should be following Bill's blog...he is full of good thoughts and words.
Ten Tips for a New Graduate Student April 25, 2013
This evening I’m taking out a couple of my students who have been accepted into graduate school for next year. I threatened (offered?) to give them my list of ten tips to being a successful graduate student (also know as “things that I wish I had done in graduate school or did, but only by accident). I riffled through my harddrive and found a few versions of it and decided to compile them into one list.
This list is directed at prospective graduate students in my field and it reflect my mistakes and successes more than anything else.
1. Have fun. Graduate School is fun. Resist the urge to rush through the program toward an uncertain future. Don’t dawdle by any means, but make sure to savor your time in graduate school. Chances are that your graduate school environment will be the most supportive, robust, and dynamic that you experience throughout your career. Enjoy it.
2. Take all the gloomy press about the job market with a grain of salt. Graduate school in the humanities is like minor league baseball. You do it because you love the game and because you believe you have what it takes to make it to the big leagues (such as they are …). Don’t do it if you feel entitled to an academic position at graduation or out of some false belief that the minor league system is designed to give every prospect an equal chance at success. Do it because you love what you’re doing and it’s a remarkable opportunity to do it for a few more years.
3. Read as much as possible. Get in the habit of looking at the major journals in your field and reading reviews. Read bibliographies. Get to be friends with your librarian. Anything you can do to know what is being published and what it is about. (The arrival of review volume of the Journal of Roman Archaeology remains one of the highlights of my year.)
4. Work harder than everyone you know and collaborate with people smarter than you. My experience is that these two things are related. Smart people have better ideas, get more opportunities, and generally have more fun. Part of the reason that they are successful is they have less smart collaborators and colleagues who work really really hard. Work hard and smart people will let you ride their coattails.
5. Write all the time. I write for at least an hour every day, even if it’s just working on my blog and each year, I find it easier to write more. I might not be developing new ideas or getting smarter, but I am definitely better and bringing my ideas from my eddying and swirling brain to the page. Ideas only really count when they are on the page. Writing a blog or a journal offers a simple way to maintain writing discipline and move ideas from thoughts to words. It also offers you a chance to produce a positive presence on the web.
6. Develop a digital ecosystem. Find ways to stay organized on your computer, back up your harddrive, develop ways to use mobile devices to make your life easier. Try new software to streamline your workflow.
7. Develop some ancillary skills. I was lucky enough to be a sufficiently marginal field archaeologist to have a chance to develop some skills in GIS and database management. While this began as a way to keep me from somehow messing up field work, it has since put me in the position to shape field procedures, interpret data, and produce analysis. Despite only ever taking one archaeology course in my life, I have turned using various database tools into opportunities to direct my own projects and to publish the results. If you can, take classes outside your department and discipline.
8. Balance professional development and taking risks. There will always be pressure to publish and present your work and it begins in graduate school (earlier and earlier these days!). At the same time, remember that graduate school is where you can take risks, learn your limits, and experiment with new approaches and ideas. Despite the feeling that the stakes in graduate school are high, they are much higher when you get your first academic position.
9. Spend time at the American School of Classical Studies at Athens. This is the greatest of the foreign research centers for American graduate students. It has an amazing alumni network, brilliant facilities, and a solid program. The School as an institution and its faculty take graduate education seriously. If you’re working in the Eastern Mediterranean, do what you can to spend time at the ASCSA.
10. Be interested in everything. There is tremendous pressure these days to professionalize and focus. While focus and discipline are good and will ensure that you move through your program with pace, maintaining academic interests outside your narrow field of dissertation represents an important risk management strategy. If your particular, specialized graduate research doesn’t end up being the “next big thing”, you’ll have other irons in the fire.
One last tip … listen to and trust your mentors.
One of the things I am always amazed at in terms of exhibitions is how fast the month goes. So much time is put into putting the work together, but the actual exhibit seems so fleeting. To me, there is always a sense of sadness in taking a show down that I am personally invested in. Micah Bloom's Codex is one of those. I had the opportunity to help an several stages in this great project so it is bittersweet to see it come down. I hope to see it again traveling across the state.
It deserves to be seen again and again by those who are always under the threat of the spring floods in ND.