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Patterns by Alicia Henry

Alicia Henry: Patterns

Religion in the Arts and Contemporary Culture and the Kelly Miller Smith Institute on Black Church Studies present: Alicia Henry: Patterns. Runs January 31 – March 14, 2019

Gallery Hours
Monday: 12:30 – 2:30 PM; Tuesday: 9 – 11 AM; Wednesday - 12:30 – 2:30 PM; Thursday: 12:30 – 2:30 PM

Opening Reception:  Thursday, January 31, 2019, 4:00 – 7:00 pm, Vanderbilt Divinity School, Room 120

Gallery Talk with Alicia Henry, Artist: Monday, February 11, 2019, 12:00 noon

Vanderbilt Divinity School, Room 120

Spiritual Meditation with Phillis Sheppard, Ph.D.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019, 12:00 noon, Vanderbilt Divinity School, Room 120

The artist's statement

A common recurring image in my work is the human figure-the figure in isolation and the figure interacting with others. My work often explores these ideas through the theme of the paper doll and paper cutouts. I am exploring the social relationship these images have had in shaping the stereotypical and idealized figures in the media by depicting generalized figures representing what I hope is a broader vision of society (racial, gender, economic, and social levels), my goal is to make visible that which still often goes unseen.


Graph of Desire: A retrospective exhibition of paintings by Mira Gerard

September 27-November 12, 2018

Gallery Hours: Monday, Thursday, Friday

12:15 to 2:15 PM

Opening Reception: September 27, 4-7PM

Vanderbilt Divinity School G-20 (Arts Room)

Graph of Desire

Artist's Statement

I make paintings of the figure as a way to understand desire, which functions in my work in part as a fantasy about being both subject and maker. For several years when I was growing up, my family lived in a small intentional community in rural New Hampshire with no TVs and with limited access to experiences of mainstream American culture in the 70's. I became fascinated with fairies and fairy tales, along with the meadows, stone walls and woods around me. During that time, I was a frequent subject of my father's paintings- usually depicted playing in fields of flowers in sun-drenched afternoon landscapes.  

Ten years ago I quite literally stumbled into Lacanian psychoanalysis. It's a practice of speaking freely and in a very nonlinear way, which parallels studio processes of sorting through fragments, pieces of images and ideas, to make something new that remembers (re-members).  I create staged photographs and videos and supplement those with screenshots, art historical references, and collage. I am specifically interested in figures or elements in landscapes and spaces, and in the implication of a kind of storyboard, a before-to-after. Because the process of painting itself feels necessarily perfomative and vulnerable, I try to communicate this through both content and approach. I have embraced traditional, old master forms of construction, with a method in place for the breakdown of those processes to occur, so that the paintings themselves are like landscapes and bodies- a physical manifestation of interruptions, scars, layers, and time. 

Mira Gerard’s creative practice spans painting, performance, and video. She received her BFA from Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana and her MFA from the University of Georgia in Athens, Georgia.  Her work has been exhibited at a wide range of venues.  Her work was selected for  New American Paintings #118  (Southeast Edition, 2015) and has been published in journals including Poets & Artists, The Cortland Review, and Manifest Painting International.  She has presented papers and performance & video works on the intersection of art and psychoanalysis at conferences including the International Zizek Studies Conference, LACK, Psychology and the Other, and the Southeastern College Art Conference.  She has been awarded fellowships for residencies at Ox-Bow School of Art, Cill Rialaig Project, The Hambidge Center, The Vermont Studio Center, and the Virginia Center for Creative Arts. Mira Gerard is Chair and Professor in the Department of Art & Design at East Tennessee State University in Johnson City, Tennessee where she has lived since 2001. 


Desire: An Evening of Musical Reflection

Thursday, April 5, 2018 | 6:00 p.m.
Vanderbilt Divinity School G-20 (Arts Room)

Luther Young

While pursuing his Master of Divinity degree, Luther Young has undertaken research at the intersection of race, sexuality, and theology. An extension of the M.Div. Senior Project entitled "Pimps and Sissies: Gay Men, the Black Church, and Liberation Theology," Desire uses song and narration to illustrate how gay black men of faith maintain their relationship with God, either within or without the Black Church. Luther along with members of the community will perform musical selections to guide reflections about the experiences of gay black men in religious contexts. Desire will be held Thursday, April 5th in the Divinity School Arts Room at 6 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.

Eikon: A Triple Encounter

Gallery Hours: Monday, Wednesday, Friday 12 - 2 PM (Room G-20)


Lecture: The Canopy and the Byzantine Church

April 14, 2018 • 3:00 p.m. Divinity School Room G-23

Dr. Jelena Bogdanovic, MA’02
Associate Professor, Iowa State University

Lecture followed by a gallery showing for the exhibit, Eikon: A Triple Encounter (on display March 27-May 10).

Sponsored by: Vanderbilt Divinity School’s Program in Religion in the Arts and Contemporary Culture, Department of History of Art, Program in Classical and Mediterranean Studies, Department of Religious Studies, and the Department of History.

This event is free and Open to the Public.

The Canopy and the Byzantine Church


Singer-songwriter, Mary Gauthier

February 27th, 2018 - 4-5 PM - Room G-20

We are happy to offer this special session with acclaimed singer-songwriter Mary Gauthier.  Gauthier will discuss her latest collection of songs, Rifles and Rosary Beads and her songs such as “Mercy Now,” which, like Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah,” has become embraced popularly as a secular hymn.  Free and open to the public.


 “To be affected by these songs, you don’t have to know anything of Gauthier’s backstory (Louisiana orphan addict chef turned sober troubadour), the respect she commands across gender lines in the Americana scene, or the heavyweight catalog she’s built out of unflinching introspection and Southern Gothic-shaded storytelling.”   NPR Music

 “…Louisiana-raised Mary Gauthier has become one of Americana music’s most admired artists—across the U.S. and around the world.”   Wall Street Journal

In My Lifetime: An African American Perspective

February 1 - 28, 2018

In observation of Black History Month, Religion in the Arts and Contemporary Culture is pleased to partner with the Kelly Miller Smith Institute on Black Church Studies to present an exhibition of paintings and mixed-media works from Nashville artist Omari Booker.  

 In My Lifetime

“Lock my body, can’t trap my mind.” -Jay-Z   

Mental and spiritual liberation in the face of physical limitations are themes woven into all of my work.

Social justice, family, and the cerebration of culture through music are threads that come together to make the body of work that you see today.

I am a Nashville native. I attended Montgomery Bell Academy and went on to play basketball at Belmont University. After a break from school I graduated from Tennessee State University with a B.S. in Graphic Design. My passion was studio art and that became my focus. Influenced by my mentor, instructor, and friend Samuel Dunson, as well as James Threalkill, Michael McBride, and a tremendous Nashville Art community I have continued to create work daily.

The pieces displayed explore my experiences and were created between 2014 and 2017. - Omari Booker


"Ritual's Musicality: Music as Innate to Bodies at Worship" by Dr. Bruce T. Morrill, S.J.

Bruce January 18, 2018 - Noon to 1PM - Room G-20 (Divinity ground floor)

Whereas people widely recognize from experience that music enlivens Christian liturgy and other types of corporate worship, explaining and exploiting scientifically and theologically why that is the case has proven a difficult—but increasingly rewarding—challenge. This lecture will review key findings on the bodily effects (as opposed to simply attending to the texts and language) of ritual song, as well as silence, as these prove constitutive of the shared human action of divine worship.

Ritual's Musicality



Invictus: 20 works Celebrating African Americans' Pursuit of Freedom and Will to Survive

Read ‘Invictus’ art exhibition inspired by Vanderbilt student’s African American studies


Hunted Slaves

February 2 - February 24, 2017

Weekly Gallery Hours: Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from Noon to 2PM - Room G-20 (ground floor Divinity)

        and by appointment (

Opening Reception: Thursday, February 2, 2017; 3-7PM - Room G-20 (ground floor Divinity)

Closing Reception: February 22, 2017; Noon - 2PM - Black Cultural Center (Vanderbilt campus)




In The News


Images from the VDS Fall Semester's Coffee House

Religion in the Arts and Contemporary Culture | October 8, 2015

coffee house    coffee house   coffee house

coffee house   coffee house


Gallery Talk with Samuel L. Dunson, Jr. : Creating "Meet The Fergusons"


Religion in the Arts and Contemporary Culture | Sep. 23, 2015



‘Meet the Fergusons’ spotlights work of Nashville artist

Vanderbilt News | Author: Ann Marie Deer Owens | Sep. 9, 2015

meet the fergusons  meet the fergusons

meet the fergusons   meet the fergusons

meet the fergusons     meet the fergusons