Art meets religion

Artwork provided by artists readying the "Miracle Report" exhibition at the ASU Art Museum

Five religions. Fifty-plus examples. More than 1500 years. That’s what you’ll experience during an exhibition titled “Sacred Word and Image: Five World Religions” coming to the Phoenix Art Museum Wed., Jan 4, 2012. Folks who find their way to the museum at noon that day can enjoy a 30-minute gallery talk by Janet Baker, Ph.D., the musuem’s curator of Asian art.

The exhibition features items from the museum’s collection as well as several private collections in Arizona — and “explores themes of sacred space, language, otherwordly visions and miraculous events, symbols of power and divine beauty in Buddhist, Hindu, Jewish, Islamic and Christian works of art.”

Featured objects will include manuscripts, textiles, prayer rugs, gilded shrines, icons, jeweled reliquaries and painted altarpieces. The Phoenix Art Museum has documented the exhibition by creating its first electronic catalogue — featuring short essays by Arizona experts on five world religions and detailed digital photographs. The exhibition runs through Mar. 25, 2012.

The film “Kundun,” which explores the life of Tibet’s 14th Dalai Lama, will be screened at the Phoenix Art Museum at 1pm on Mar. 4, 2012. The film, directed by Martin Scorsese, examines issues faced by the young Buddhist leader — including Chinese oppression and other social obstacles — and considers how the Dalai Lama’s faith guided his politics. It’s being presented by the ASU Center for Film, Media and Popular Culture.

The Phoenix Art Museum presents another religion-related exhibition through Jan. 22, 2012. “Seeing is Believing: Rebecca Campbell and Angela Ellsworth” features artwork by L.A. artist Campbell and Phoenix artist Ellsworh, both of whom “spent their childhoods in Utah and within the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.”

The “Seeing isBelieving” exhibition features painting, sculpture and installations that “touch on memory and nostalgia but are grounded in the present and the reinterpretation of their experiences as well as Mormon traditions and practices.” Ellsworth’s great-great grandfather was the fifth prophet of the Mormon church.

The ASU Art Museum at Arizona State University in Tempe presents an exhibition titled “Miracle Report: Juliane Swartz and Ken Landauer, Social Studies 8″ from Jan. 21-June 2, 2012. The opening reception takes place Tues., Jan. 20 from 5-7pm. “Social Studies” is an artist-in-residence program at the museum.

Artists Swartz and Landauer will “explore the miraculous through people’s perceptions of it in their lives, interviewing students, school children and community members of all ages and backgrounds” — then combine their findings into “an installation of fleeting vignettes.” The artists envision a final product that blends beauty, hocus-pocus and unexplainable magic.

This project is supported by a grant from The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts as part of the Social Studies series. Initiated by John D. Spiak, the “Miracle Report” exhibition is curated by Heather Sealy Lineberry with Nicole Herden.

“The idea is that miracles come in all flavors, shapes and sizes,” according to Deborah Sussman Susser with the ASU Art Museum. “So religion will play a role for some, and not for others.” Folks interested in retelling their own miracles — or inviting an artist to record miracles recounted by members of a community group — can contact Herden at

— Lynn

Note: For some, the debate over guns takes on near religious fervor. Folks interested in second amendment related-issues can experience “Securing a Free State: The Second Amendment Project — Jennifer Nelson, Social Studies 7″ curated by Lekha Hileman Waitoller at the ASU Art Museum through Dec. 31, 2011. Susser notes that the museum is open 11am-5pm on Sat., Dec. 31.

Coming up: How low can you go?, Library meets love affair

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