Peggy Parker is a working artist who has served as adjunct instructor in the visual arts since 1991. Her sculpture – Mary as Prophet – He has filled the hungry with good things – will be dedicated at the time of the chapel consecration. She recommends the following books as part of the Bishop Payne Library’s monthly series highlighting a faculty member’s ”picks”.
Contemporary poet Dan Gioia has written that the arts are “one of the most powerful means of calling souls to God.” Each of these books addresses this claim, enlarging our understanding of the arts in the life of faith.
Deborah Sokolove, Sanctifying Art – Inviting Conversation between Artists, Theologians, and the Church, Cascade, 2013.
Sokolove’s engaging and comprehensive study is essential reading on the visual arts and the church. Currently serving as Director of Wesley Seminary’s Luce Center for the Arts and Religion, Sokolove writes with authority drawn from her background as artist, curator, teacher, and liturgical scholar. She addresses practical matters such as ways of handling “bad” art and working with artists in a congregation, as well as philosophical questions such as the spiritual and prophetic capacities of the arts and the need for art even in the face of the overwhelming needs of the world. Her bibliography is a useful resource for further study in the arts.
Gavin D’Costa, Eleanor Nesbitt, Mark Pryce, Ruth Shelton, Nicola Slee, Making Nothing Happen – Five Poets Explore Faith and Spirituality, Ashgate, 2014.
This book combines a collection of contemporary Christian verse with reflections by each writer on being called as both poet and theologian. This group of English poets originally included Rowan Williams, who contributed the Foreword. Their verses explore a wide range of subjects, including the sacred in the ordinary; the poignant connections and disjunctions of family relations; illness and dying; the Biblical story glimpsed and recast in contemporary terms. Powerful in their own right, the poems are of particular interest set beside the poets’ essays. Together the essays and poems, in Williams’ words, “bring us to a space of discovery and recognition.”
James M. Watkins, Creativity as Sacrifice – Toward a Theological Model for Creativity in the Arts, Fortress, 2015.
As with Making Nothing Happen, Watkins’ book reflects interest among contemporary theologians in the nature of the creative act. Published in Fortress Press’s Emerging Scholars series, this book recasts Watkins’ dissertation, completed at the University of St. Andrews under David Brown. Following an overview of 20th century models of creativity (grounded in three different ways of understanding the artist as acting in imago Dei) Watkins focuses in depth on three models for creativity: as an expression of genius, as a form of incarnation, and as a sacrificial act. Siding, as his title suggests, with the sacrificial model, he concludes with a sustained examination of the implications of this decision. His bibliography offers a comprehensive list of resources on creativity.