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liturgy of healing

A virtual gathering. More information including registration, will be shared as it is confirmed.

Date:  March 16, 2021 | Time: 6-7:30PM Central Time



Join us February 18-19, 2021 for a two-day virtual gathering with the creators of The Black Trans Prayer Book. For more information and the complete schedule, please see:

The Black Trans Prayer Book is an interfaith, multi-dimensional, artistic and theological work that collects the stories, poems, prayers, meditation, spells, and incantations of Black Trans & Non-Binary people. Often pushed out of Faith spaces and yet still deeply connected to a historical legacy of spiritual essentiality, Black Trans People face unprecedented amounts of spiritual, physical, and psychological violence. The Black Trans Prayer Book is a tool of healing, and affirmation centered on uplifting Black Trans & Non-Binary people and celebrating our place within faith.

Image Description: Event Save the Date, white text on a blurred gray/blue background. On the right 3 sticks of incense are burning, about an inch of each has burned down and is gray. Small lines of orange are visible, and smoke rises from the top of the brown, unburned portion. The text reads: The Black Trans Prayer Book, What does it mean to have a faith practice that simultaneously challenges white supremacy and transphobia?  Save the Date, Feb. 18-19 2021, Healing Ritual/Workshop/Worship/Reading,



Artist Statement – “Resilient Souls: We Rest Then We Rise”
My work compiles stories that are my own as well as those of my loved ones, my ancestors and the humble words of strangers. With themes of poverty, death, mental illness, masculinity/femininity and racial injustice, the bright colors and inclusion of words I use create underlying themes of survival, redemption and hope. The juxtaposition of pain and healing are held in the same space within each piece allowing each emotion to be seen and felt to open the way for healing.
This collection of works is a reflection of the natural strength we have to keep going, even in tough times, and of the need to rest and live our lives before we get back up to fight again.

MyVU: Divinity School marks Black History Month with new ‘Resilient Souls’ online art exhibit

Ashley Mintz is a visual artist and writer creating and residing in Nashville, Tennessee. She began her creative journey when she moved to Nashville to pursue songwriting. Composing and recording her own instrumental music, she has had original music used in independent and short films and a play.

She began doing abstract drawings and paintings and currently does mixed media work. She can often be found exhibiting her art and has also had her art in the background of two films. As a writer of poetry and song lyrics, she often incorporates writing into her paintings and also exhibits poetry and lyrics alongside paintings. She has been invited to read her poetry and perform music at different arts festivals.

Ashley regularly teaches her art and writing techniques in art journaling and mixed media art workshops as a way to help others cultivate their creativity and to use art as a way of healing.



MyVU: Stories of Intersex and Faith

Join us Monday, October 26th, 2020 at 7pm CST as we celebrate Intersex Awareness Day with an online screening of the film  Stories of Intersex and Faith  followed by a talk back with filmmakers Megan DeFranza and Lianne Simon, Marrisa Adams (featured in the film), and Arlene B. Baratz, MD. For those who cannot join us live, a link will be sent to provide access to the event for 48 hours afterwards. Please register by clicking here. This event is sponsored by the Carpenter Program in Religion, Gender, and Sexuality at Vanderbilt Divinity School; Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and Intersex Life at Vanderbilt University; Religion in the Arts and Contemporary Culture at Vanderbilt Divinity School; Vanderbilt LGBT Policy Lab; and Vanderbilt School of Nursing. 

Michael McBride

Sinner Man, Oil on canvas, 60″ x 48″ by Michael McBride

MyVU: Arts in Black History Month

“Art provides a tool for communication between the viewer and me. Color is a major component in that communication which can evoke different moods and ideas. I believe in presenting images that reflect positive ideas and situations. It is important for the viewer to see my work and to view the contents through the lens of their own life experiences."-Michael McBride


Channel 5: Admired organist to accompany DeMille's silent film 'The Ten Commandments' at local screening

MyVU: Vanderbilt to screen silent film ‘The Ten Commandments’ with live organist Jan. 13

"My goal is to basically create a narrative, a sonic narrative for the film as though the director is sitting next to me and telling me what he or she wants the video to say."-Peter Krasinski

Ah Rising! Fall 2019 Art Gallery

Ah Rising!

Gallery Hours: Monday: 11:30AM-1PM | Tuesday: 10AM-12:30PM | Wednesday: 1-3PM | Thursday: 10AM-12:30PM

My name is Erie Chapman.  I am a Baptist minister, a graduate of Vanderbilt Divinity School, a lawyer, healthcare executive—and, an artist.  In each of my career roles, art has traveled along, sometimes in the background, sometimes in the fore.  I am now in a season where art is in the foreground and my experiences of faith and religious scholarship are bound up in it.  The exhibit you will be seeing, “Ah Rising” is very much a work in progress.  It should be viewed as something “not yet there” but, hopefully, on its way.  As is sometimes the case with artists, the first move—the creation of the artwork—allows for a secondary effect, an understanding of what is, below the surface, inspiring the artist’s creativity.  In my case with this exhibit, the creative spark comes from the personal need to reimagine God, especially God’s messianic persona.  Who is the new messiah that seems to me to waiting in the wings, ready to bring the fresh wind of divine presence to humankind?  In the case of this exhibit that divine, messianic “person” is female.  Her name is Ah.

Another recurrence in the practice of artists is the impulse to explore that which we do not know—that which is mystery, that which draws us into unknown territories in search of revelation or experience.  And this is the situation in which I find myself creatively—exploring a manifestation of divinity very much different from the one I heard preached in my youth.
Feeding my creative direction in this exhibition is a vision that occurred during a near-drowning experience in my youth.  It was a vision of God personified as a woman. In the vision, the woman instructs me that God is Beauty and that I must honor that and quest for it.   Subsequently, I have tried through art to capture the divinity in human beings—particularly women—by photographing people of every background, race and orientation.  A number of the images in this exhibit are of European women but my larger oeuvre includes images of Black and Asian women—from young adults to the elderly.
While I am a heterosexual WASP who grew up in what is often referred to as a privileged social context, there were complicating relationships in my life that sensitized me and opened me up to the realities of others.  Two of those relationships were very close to home.  My younger sister was born with dwarfism.  I spent my childhood fighting boys who made fun of her.  My younger brother is gay and I have defended him as well—to our father.  Over the years, these two relationships and numerous others helped foster in me a religious and intellectual hunger that led me to Vanderbilt Divinity School and subsequently ordination.  The church where I was ordained, Glendale Baptist was thrown out of the Southern Baptist convention due to our two women pastors, one of whom identifies as lesbian.  The products of my artistic output share some of the same traits as my theology—love of the divine, love of humanity in all its variety, and seeking new (to me) paths to understanding.  For me, art is more a path than a destination.  More a question than a statement, more a hint than a full story.
Although I have two postgraduate degrees (law and theology), taught at Vanderbilt for two years, and went a little over halfway toward a PhD at Vandy, my artistic pursuits are not academic.  Instead, they are a very personal expression of one man in pursuit of the experience understanding of  beauty, which I define as divinity made manifest. 

Other Artistic Endeavors

I have been a full time photo-artist, film maker, composer and poet for more than ten years meaning that I integrate all four of these disciplines in my work (one of my books of poetry and photography is Woman as Beauty. Over the past ten years I have created and produced two, award-winning feature films and three short films,) The first of these is called Who Loves Judas (also performed as a play).  It addresses the hypocrisy of betrayal in contemporary America.  The second is "Alex Dreaming" in which Minton Sparks co-starred.

Exhibit Dedication

I was running Baptist Hospital full time while going to Divinity School full time.  So when I showed up in a coat and tie no one sat near me.  After a class on the first day a black woman who had been in the same class said to me,  "So, are you one of those anal retentive white guys with your coat & tie?"  Michelle Jackson and I became great friends and continued to be after she married her partner, Lillian.  A few weeks after graduation Michelle died suddenly.  She was 38.  I set up a Scholarship Fund in her honor at the Divinity School (it still exists) and I am dedicating this exhibit to Michelle, a gay black woman who looked like my opposite but was, instead, my sister.  


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