The Society for the Arts, Religion, and Contemporary Culture. Volume IX (new series) Fall 2010



ARC To Celebrate Fifty Years


Plans are underway to observe the golden anniversary of the Society for the Arts, Religion, and Contemporary Culture in 2011.  A committee chaired by Ralph Peterson with William Conklin, Erling Hope, Tobi Kahn, and Constance Old as members is considering several different exciting possibilities for a special celebration. 

Watch for further details.

The 40th anniversary in 2001 saw the publication of The ARC Story: A Narrative Account of the Society for the Arts, Religion, and Contemporary Culture.  Copies are available for $8.00 from nlvos@


Junko Chodos Elected ARC Fellow

Junko Chodos, artist from the San Francisco area, was recently elected as a Fellow of the Society.  Born in Japan, Junko has had some thirty solo exhibitions in such locations as the Fresno Art Museum in 2005 and 2006 and several shows at Long Beach Museum of Master of Arts.  Her art has been collected in these museums as well as several others.  She has lectured at many venues including the Graduate Theological Union and the Getty Museum.  Several films and DVD’s have been produced featuring her art.  Two books, Metamorphoses: The Transformative Vision of Junko Chodos (2001) and Why on Earth Does God Have to Paint? Centripetal Arts (2009) by her husband, Rafael, have been published.  Her Centripetal Art explores deep world reflections on the nature and phenomenological impact of technology on the human condition.  Chodos has participated in two ARC symposia; in 2004 she gave a lecture on Art and Spirituality at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley and in

2009 she was a presenter at the Consultation on the Influence of Technology on the Arts and Religion at Barnard College.


A China Trip – William Conklin

My first trip to China to China was courtesy of the US Navy.  We docked for a few days in Tsingtao after being told that we would not be going to Japan because we had dropped a “very big” bomb that apparently would take care of the problem.  The second was for studying Chinese hospitals when the country was being run by “the gang of four.”  This summer’s trip was to experience the ancient Silk Road where East and West first met and where religions (such as Buddhism, Zoroastrianism, Confucianism, and Christianity) were exchanged along with their accompanying arts and products, such as silk.  The pace of camel (and I did ride one this summer) hardly rivals the internet, but their roles in facilitating the exchange of ideas and products (including music) must actually have been similar.  The religious art created along the Silk Road seems to have largely been monumental--mountainsides of carved stone caves, colossal temples and huge golden statues that amazed us but seem wholly alien to our own religious sensibility.  Today’s only rival for their scale would be our business buildings.  The Taliban today is the only religious group that seems to be interested in such monumentality, but their violent and anti- Buddhism seems archaic, since most of the world’s religious monuments have today become mere tourist attractions.  The architect/pilot who led the assault in 9-11 was, he believed, destroying an anti-religious monument.  Shanghai’s 2010 monumental and imaginative Expo buildings seem exclusively concerned with the expression of political entities.

This diminution in the scale of Western religious art and fervor also marks, un-noticed, the concerns of ARC.  Perhaps we are really a very unsure age.

Writing now forms our major religious statements

and the keyboard has utterly replaced the camel as our favorite carrier of both products and messages.





Re-elected as Directors for three-year terms are Orlanda Brugnola, painter and educator in New York; William Conklin, architect and explorer of ancient civilizations from Washington, DC; Mark Harvey, musician and composer from Boston; Charles Henderson, Executive Director of the Association for Religion in Life; Allen Levines, musician and educator from Boston; John McIntyre, Jesuit priest and educator from Boston; and Tim Nuveen, poet and educator from Berkeley, California.


Five new Directors of the Society were elected at the 2010 annual meeting.


Anne Foerst, Assistant Professor of Computer Science at St. Bonaventure University, has a long career of exploring the relationship of theology and artificial intelligence.  From 1997-2001, she served as Director of the God and Computers Project at MIT.  She is the author of numerous articles and papers and of a book, God in the Machine: What Robots Teach Us About Humanity and God, 1994.  Foerst holds degrees in computer science and philosophy from the University of Bonn, Germany, a master of divinity degree from the Seminary of the Protestant church in Rhineland, and a Ph.D. in theology from the Ruhr-University at Bochum, Germany.


Richard S. Vosko has served as a liturgical design consultant since 1970.  He has completed some 120 building projects.  He has received numerous awards including the Stiffler Award in Design for his book from Christians in the Visual Arts in 2005 and the Catholic Press Association First Place Award for his book, God’s House: Tis Our House: Re-imagining the Environment for Worship in 2007. Vosko is the recipient of the Berakah Award, the highest honor given by the North American Academy of Liturgy.  He is being recognized for his scholarship and contributions to the field of religious art and architecture.  The award will be made in San Francisco, January, 2011.  His degrees include a Master of Divinity from the Christ the King Seminary and an M.F.A. and Ph.D. from Syracuse University.


Jann Cather Weaver, Associate Professor of Worship, Theology, and the Arts at the United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities, has focused her teaching and research on the arts, ritual studies, and liturgy.  She is an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ.  She has published more than a dozen articles on topics as wide-ranging as violence in the Bible to Eucharistic Images on film.  She serves as a co-editor of Imaging the Word: An Arts and Lectionary Resource.  She was awarded a Master of Divinity from Eden Theological Seminary and a Ph.D. from the Graduate Theological Union.


Osagyefo Uhuru Sekou is the senior Minister of Lemuel Haynes Congregational Church (UCC) in South Jamaica Queens, New York.  He is a third generation ordained Elder in the Church of God in Christ.  Reverend Sekou holds fellowships with the Brooklyn Society for Ethical Culture, The Fellowship of Reconciliation, and the Institute for Policy Studies.  His forthcoming book is Gods, Gays and Guns: Religion and the Future of Democracy.


Tobi Kahn is a painter and sculptor whose work has been shown in over 40 solo exhibitions and over 60 museum and groups shows since he was selected as one of nine artists to be included in the 1985 Guggenheim Museum exhibition, New Horizons in American Art.  Works by Kahn are in major museums, corporate, and private collections.  A museum exhibit of over a decade of his work, Tobi

Kahn: Metamorphoses, curated by ARC Fellow, Peter Selz, traveled to eight museums from 1997 through 1999. Objects of the Spirit: Ritual and the Art of Tobi Kahn, a book about Kahn’s ceremonial art, was published in June 2004 by Hudson Hill Press and the Avoda Institute.  For twenty-five years, Kahn has been making miniature sacred spaces he calls “shrines.”  The first full-scale shrine, Shaley, is in New Harmony, Indiana commissioned as an outdoor sculpture for Jane Owen and the Robert Lee Blagger Trust.  In 2008, Kahn was commissioned to create the art and ritual objects for the sanctuary of Congregation Emanu-el B’ne Jeshurun, in Milwaukee, WI.  The book, Tobi Kahn, Sacred Spaces for the 21st Century, edited by Ena Giurescu Heller and published by the Museum of Biblical Art in New York in association with D Giles Limited, London, accompanied the exhibition.  Among the awards that Kahn has received is an Honorary Doctorate from the Jewish Theological Seminary in 2007 for his work as an artist and educator.  For twenty-eight years, he has taught fine arts workshops at the School of Visual Arts in New York City.




Mark Harvey and his Aardvark Jazz Orchestra recently presented two major concerts in the Boston area.  At MIT, he premiered his original extended composition The Moment in honor of the passage of health reform.  At Boston College, the band presented the major New England Centennial Celebration of jazz great, Mary Lou Williams, a concert spanning several decades of compositions and titled From Swing to Sacred Music.  Special guests included the internationally-renowned pianist, Gere Allen and Fr. Peter O’Brien, for many years Mary Lou Williams’ manager and advisor.  Harvey has also received a commission for a new work to be performed in the Spring of 2011 as part of MIT’s Sesquicentennial Convocation.


Maurice N. Finegold reports that the Tri-Faith initiative in Omaha moves along slowly as site selection and acquisition is a top priority.  This project intends to include a new reform synagogue, an Episcopal church and a mosque.  The distance that will separate these buildings not only has to do with the particular site, identifiable access to each of the three institutions, but the degree to which the spatial and spiritual tension can be accommodated.


Rafael and Junko Chodos report that The Foundation for Centripetal Art has launched a series of symposia focusing on important issues in the philosophy of art.  The first symposium titled, Art and Authority, was held in February, 2010 at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, CA.  A symposium titled, Art and Religion, is scheduled for February, 2011, at UCLA.  Junko Chodos will deliver a paper on Revelation in Art and Religion and the symposium will be coordinated with a January-March exhibit at the Dortort Art Gallery at the UCLA Hillel House, of Junko’s series, “Concerning Art and Religion.”  Website link to “Foundation” is


Constance Old is working to bring music instrument classes to the public schools in New York City where the music education programs have either been greatly reduced or eliminated.  The teachers will be the Graduate School of City University of New York students who are earning their Ph.D.’s in performing art.  She is also developing a lecture series relating the ideology of specific culture or historical period as embodied in the visual arts and the performing arts.  This program is in conjunction with the Musical Instrument Department at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  This was inspired, Constance said, by a lecture performance she observed at the Courthald last January in the Frank Auerbach paintings of London Devastation in WW II combined with a cello performance of Hindenmith and Litzt.


David Jasper from the University of Glasgow was appointed in 2009 as Changyang Chair Professor at Renmin University of China, Beijing which requires him to be in residence and to offer an undergraduate and graduate course for three years, remaining in residence for between two and three months of the year.  Also in 2010, he participated in sessions of the International Summer School at this university.  His first period of residence in 2009 coincided with the establishment of a major new Institute of Religion in Renmin University under the direction of Professor Yang Huilin, Professor of Comparative Literature and currently also Vice- President of the University.  Jasper reports: “It proved to be a hugely stimulating experience, involving also lectures as Guest Professor in Huazhong University of Science and Technology in Wuhan.  As China’s universities increasingly impact on the world of scholarship, the field of religion and the arts is a key and fascinating area to be to be involved in.”  Jasper also recently co-published with his former student, Allen Smith, Between Truth and Fiction (Baylor University Press).


Orlanda Brugnola and her student at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, Lehan Martine Hule, recently held an exhibit at the College, Luring the Leopard.  Orlanda’s exhibition work over the last three decades has included photography, painting, and sculpture.  A published poet, her sculpture, “Soul Well”, the new piece for this show, hints at the trickster’s spiritual mischief.  The housing for the well was assembled by sculptor and ARC President Erling Hope to Brugnola’s design.


Michael Salcman reports that his last poetry collection, The Clock Made of Confetti (Orchises, 2007), was nominated for The Poets’ Prize in 2009 and was a finalist for the Towson University Prize in Literature.  The new collection, The Enemy of Good is Better, is forthcoming late this fall from Orchises.  It contains three poems that have received nominations for Pushcart Prize, one that was nominated for a Best of the Web Award, and one that appeared June 21st) on Poetry Daily as their Father’s Day poem.  In 2009, Michael was nominated to be Poet Laureate of Maryland.  He adds that he is currently working on Poetry in Medicine: A Classic and Contemporary Anthology.  Last September he gave an invited lecture at the World Congress of Neurological Surgery in Boston on My Life in Art in Neuroscience.  Any suggestions for poets (whether physicians or not) and poems about anatomy, disease, physicians, other health care workers, etc. will be deeply appreciated, not to mention a lead to a publisher who might be interested in such a program.


Patrick J. Quinn has been invited to co-edit the proceedings of the recent Architecture, Culture & Spirituality Forum held at St. John’s Benedictine Monastery in Collegeville, Minnesota.  The proceedings will be published as a series of illustrated articles in the Winter Edition of 2A Architecture, an important and beautifully-produced journal published in Dubai.


Gordon Dragt recently was honored by having an alcove in the library at New Brunswick Theological Seminary bear his name.  Reverend Dragt was instrumental in the seminary’s Artist in Residence.  His past career has featured using the arts in worship, particularly at Middle Collegiate Church in New York for twenty years.


At the recent AIA convention in Miami Beach, Michael Crosbie was awarded the Edward Frey Memorial Award.





The Society for the Arts, Religion, and Contemporary Culture honors, challenges, and cultivates the relationship between religion and the arts.


For further information and membership contact:

Nelvin Vos, Executive Director

15811 Kutztown Rd.

Maxatawny, PA 19538.

Phone and fax: 610-683-7581.









Nelvin Vos