The Religion, Spirituality & the Arts Seminar (RSA), a project of the IUPUI Arts & Humanities Institute, invited 11 Indiana artists to explore and expound upon the story of Jonah and the Whale during the ninth annual Religion, Spirituality and the Arts Seminar and the accompanying art exhibition. Artists include Megan Jefferson, Courtland Blade, Claudia Labin, Kate Lenkowsky, Manon Bullock, Kyle Hunter, Rachel Sahaidachny, Sarah Morin, Paul Wilson, Erik Peden and Luka Carlson.

In this exhibition, the artists explore the story of Jonah in the Bible and the Quran and consider a variety of themes including the arbitrariness of unwarranted compassion and the desire to escape calls to human responsibility. When others cry out, Jonah runs away or sleeps. Might we see contemporary responses to crises through Jonah’s actions? What about the human desire to flee distasteful obligations? Through visual arts, poetry, and music the artists explore the symbolism of the big fish as “reassuring womb” or “terrifying tomb” and the strange prophet who hates change but nevertheless brings it about in the end.

Directed by Rabbi Sandy Sasso, the RSA Seminar explores the varieties of religious experience and understanding. Through seminars led by an interdisciplinary faculty, artists gain the knowledge and inspiration to develop new artistic works. Artists share their creations through exhibitions and presentations to members of the Central Indiana community, including religious organizations, schools, libraries, and community groups.

On February 20th, 2020, the first public exhibition of the 2019-2020 RSA Seminar’s work will open featuring new works of painting, sculpture, music, and poetry developed by the cohort. A reception begins at 5:30pm with refreshments and performances beginning at 6:30p.m. The exhibition will remain display at the Jewish Community Center from February 20th to March 29th, 2020. The exhibition will then be moved to the Harrison Center and will be on display from April 3rd to April 24th.

The 2019-20 Religion, Spirituality & the Arts Seminar programming is made possible by a generous grant from Lilly Endowment, Inc. and is offered in partnership with Christian Theological Seminary and the Jewish Community Center of Indianapolis. Additional information about the seminar is available at https://www.culturalecologies.org/rsa/.

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