South African Art Exhibit Co-hosted by Local Seminary and Church

The Center for Lifelong Learning at Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur and Central Presbyterian Church in Atlanta are co-hosting a new exhibit, Between the Shadow and the Light: An Exhibition out of South Africa. The exhibit is on display at both locations now through mid-August. The exhibition features art created by North American and African artists following a joint trip to South Africa co-sponsored by the Council for Christian Colleges & Universities. The stop in Atlanta is part of a multi-year tour across the United States.

“Between the Shadow & the Light: An Exhibition Out of South Africa” includes art created by 21 Christian artists from the United States, Canada, Kenya, Ghana, Nigeria, Botswana, Zimbabwe and South Africa. The group included roughly equal numbers of women and men and blacks and whites, and ranged in age from their twenties to their sixties, bringing in a truly diverse range of perspectives to the project, said Rachel Hostetter Smith, professor of art history at Taylor University in Upland, Indiana, and curator of the exhibit.

The artists spent two weeks together in South Africa in an intensive seminar in June of 2013, where they participated in a program designed to introduce them to the many social, economic and political complexities in the region.

“Why did we want to do this project in South Africa? There is a remarkable visual arts renaissance taking place in that land, where recent history, lively religious dynamics and contemporary social challenges make a compelling setting for Christian artistic reflection and experimentation,” said Joel Carpenter, director of the Nagel Institute for the Study of World Christianity at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and co-leader of the seminar.

The seminar, which followed a structure created by a similar seminar that took place in Indonesia in 2008, was titled “R5” (a reference to the five-rand coin commonly used in South Africa) and highlighted five critical issues often included in South African art:

  • Remembrance: the intertwined and contested histories of varied people groups.
  • Resistance: the old, vivid, and continuing tradition of prophetic artistry.
  • Reconciliation: persistent questions over how to justly reconcile aggrieved people.
  • Representation: in a post-colonial, multicultural society, who may represent whom?
  • Re-visioning: how does hope factor into artistic imagination?

The result is an exhibition of nearly 40 works in a variety of media, including painting, sculpture, installation and video, using a range of styles and approaches to explore those issues raised throughout the seminar.

“We hope that [the exhibit] will foster efforts to bring into being the particular restoration and renewal characterized by the kingdom of God,” Smith said. “Recent events in the U.S. confirm that the issues raised by the exhibit are critical for us to address as a country and as Christians. We hope that it will provide a vehicle for these much-needed and timely conversations.”

The entire project was co-sponsored by the CCCU, the Lilly Fellows Program in the Humanities and the Arts, and the Nagel Institute for the Study of World Christianity. The exhibit, which opened in New Orleans, Louisiana, at Xavier University and the McKenna Museum of African American Art, will travel across the United States into 2018 and is already booked at a dozen venues. For more information, visit the exhibition’s website.

The exhibit is on display on the second floor of the Harrington Center on the seminary campus through August 10. It is open to the public during regular office hours (8:30 – 4:30 PM, Monday –Friday). Arrangements to view the exhibit at other times may be made by contacting the Center for Lifelong Learning at 404-687-4577 or Central Presbyterian Church is located at 201 Washington St. SW, Atlanta, GA 30303. For additional information about the exhibit at the church visit

For more information, please contact:
Corie Cox
Media and Marketing Coordinator, Center for Lifelong Learning
t: 404-687-4636

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