Symposium scholars discuss Christianity, art
Since early humans first began to capture their impressions of the world around them in charcoal on the walls of caves, the urge to create art has been bound up in religious and spiritual impulses.
Though modern art addresses secular interests more than in times past, the history of art — whether painting, literature, poetry or music — has been woven into the history of religion.
Four scholars will come together for a panel discussion about the role of Christianity in history and art beginning at 2 p.m. on March 7 in the USAO Ballroom as part of the 7th Annual Emerson-Wier Liberal Arts Symposium at the University of Science and Arts.
In addition to the panel discussion, the symposium will feature a keynote from religious scholar and MacArthur award recipient, Dr. Elaine Pagels, beginning at 7:30 p.m. in Te Ata Memorial Auditorium.
The symposium is free and open to the public.
Scheduled to join Pagels for the panel discussion are Dr. Sandra Mayfield, professor of English and director of the women’s studies minor at the University of Central Oklahoma, Lyle Novinski, professor emeritus of art at the University of Dallas and Dr. Michael Thompson, endowed professor of religious studies at Oklahoma State University.
Mayfield’s presentation will be on “The Bible as Literature,” drawn from material she teaches in a similarly themed class.
Mayfield is a native Oklahoman, earning her Ph.D. degree in English literature from the University of Oklahoma. She also earned a master of religious education degree from Southwestern Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas.
Mayfield has served as a professor of English at the University of Central Oklahoma for 26 years, serving the last four years as the chair of the English department.
Novinski’s presentation will consider “Michelangelo as Theologian,” discussing the impact that the Renaissance master’s art has had on conceptions of God.
Novinski is a long time professor at the University of Dallas and an established painter and designer. He earned his master of fine arts degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison as well as further study in philosophy and theology at Marquette University.
Novinski’s interests as a working artist include the design and execution of liturgical spaces and he teaches courses on the history of sacred art at the University of Dallas.
Thompson’s presentation is titled, “The Creation and the Study of the New Testament.”
A native of Ponca City, Thompson earned his Ph.D. from Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary. Thompson was appointed to the faculty of Golden Gate Seminary in 1982 and taught at the seminary for 20 years.
He has taught at OSU since January 2003.
A veteran lecturer, Thompson has delivered speeches at Mississippi College and William Jewell College and served as religious week lecturer at Mississippi State University, Texas Tech University, California Baptist University and Southwest Baptist University.
Serving as moderator for the panel discussion is Dr. Zachary Simpson, assistant professor of interdisciplinary studies at USAO.
Simpson, who occupies the Brad Ableson Religious Reconciliation Chair at USAO, earned his doctorate in philosophy of religion and philosophy from Claremont Graduate University in 2009.
He has been a member of USAO’s faculty since 2009 and had his first book, Life as Art: Aesthetics and the Creation of Self from Nietzsche to Foucault published in 2012 by Lexington Books.
USAO’s Emerson-Wier Liberal Arts Symposium series is sponsored annually by the USAO Foundation and was inspired by endowment funds created by Oklahoma College for Women alumnae Gladys Anderson Emerson and Nance Foules Wier.
More information can be obtained by calling 574-1362.