Graduate Theological Union
The Arts as a Form of Theological Reflection: CARE Celebrates 25 Years
The Center for the Arts, Religion, and Education (CARE) marked its 25th anniversary in 2012. A bridge between campus and community, a connection of academe and the arts, the Center is a GTU-affiliated autonomous non-profit providing “theological reflection and practice through educational curriculum in arts and religion and to present related arts programs that enhance the GTU community.”
Effervescent personality Doug Adams, Professor of Christianity and the Arts at Pacific School of Religion (PSR) and leader in the field of religion and the arts, founded the Center in 1987 to expand the course offerings at the GTU and enhance faith communities.
Carin Jacobs was selected to succeed Adams as Director after his passing in 2007, a mantle she took on five years ago. With a background in museum education and academic publishing, her interests also include food studies and cultural aspects of food and culinary arts. “Museums and food culture are lenses through which we can look at spirituality and worship as they are often informed by spiritual commitments and practices,” Jacobs explains.
Perhaps Jacobs’ greatest accomplishment to date is the creation of the Doug Adams Gallery. Envisioned as a laboratory honoring its namesake, the Gallery has become the public face of CARE since opening in 2009 and holds three exhibits a year. At first glance it might seem awkward that the Gallery shares space with the Badè Museum of Biblical Archaeology, located in the former library edifice of PSR, but the partnership has actually sparked creativity. Through the innovative “Mining the Collection” series, artists are regularly invited to create new work inspired by the museum’s holdings – the most recent, Dimensions of Dark by Cathy Richardson, focused on light from oil lamps to light bulbs.
The foyer to the museum has also become collaborative space involving museum staff and creative partners from the GTU community. In the unique setting of theological education at GTU, a museum becomes a kind of intellectual nourishment, providing visual pathways to “explore spirituality, belief, ritual, and the sacred.”
Currently Bay Area artist Pamela Lanza’s Twin Bandits is on exhibition with The Body Was Our First Machine in the Foyer.
Providing artistic scholarship to the GTU curriculum, CARE faculty teach 15-20 graduate level courses each year focusing on the theory and practice of visual, performing, literary and media arts, and their role in worship and ministry. Jacobs describes the Center’s work as a Venn diagram of arts, faith, and academe.
As a resource to the museum and gallery communities, CARE has placed its art collection online and on loan. Jacobs is currently spearheading an effort to organize a national conference on the role of visual and material culture in theological education.
With such vision, CARE will continue to illuminate our lives and help us see with new lenses for the next quarter century and beyond.