Programs & Events
Spirituality and the Arts
The Office of Religious Life’s Spirituality and the Arts program explores and uncovers the spiritual and devotional dimensions of the arts. Through film screenings, plays, spoken word events, music concerts, dance performances, and art exhibitions, Spirituality and the Arts examines the ultimate questions of meaning, purpose, and identity as they manifest through the arts. Previous participants and performers include Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Rainn Wilson, K.C. Porter, Salman Ahmad, Nishat Khan, D’Lo, Summer Watson, and Roger Steffens.
“With all my faith in little Saint Jude Thaddeus I dedicate this retablo to give thanks for cleansing me of rheumatism.” This hand-painted image on tin was created in thanks for the intercession of a saint for the healing of a New Mexican in 1962.
In northern New Mexico, once called New Spain, a unique folk art tradition developed during the period 1780-1907. Settlers from central Mexico colonized the rugged, austere landscape inhabited by the Pueblo Indians. They brought with them the Catholic tradition of devotion to images of saints. The isolation of the settlers resulted in a distinctive style of carving and painting wooden santos. The images have a direct emotional appeal, and appear uncluttered and naïve compared to their more elaborate counterparts in Spain. Santos come in two forms: retablos (often hand-adzed painted wooden panels) or bultos (hand-carved wooden three-dimensional sculptures). Cottonwood was the material used in most of the santos displayed here. The santero would apply gesso (gypsum paste) to the carving to give it a smooth surface, and paint it with indigenous vegetable and mineral pigments. The santero was regarded as the master artist of the village. Santos adorned homes, chapels, churches, and moradas (meeting places of the lay Catholic Penitente cult). They were images of the spiritual protectors and benefactors assigned to each person at birth. Santos were virtually members of the family, interceding between the people and God.
BENDIGA NUESTRO VIAJE Y DENOS ESPERANZA Bless Our Journey, Give Us Hope - a display of artifacts left on the desert trails used by migrants crossing the Mexican border into southern Arizona, curated by Arizona artists Antonia Gallegos and Valarie James, at the Kilgore Chapel, University Religious Center, Sept-Dec 2014