Artist of the Month: Gregory Wolfe
As Image's twentieth-anniversary festivities swing into high gear (April being the month when the pilot issue appeared back in 1989), we thought it only appropriate to feature our co-founder, publisher, and editor, Gregory Wolfe, as Artist of the Month. Over the past two decades, Wolfe has established himself, in the words of his great admirer, the late Swiss theologian Hans Urs von Balthasar, as "Heiße Scheiße"--an untranslatable German theological formulation that means something like "master of incarnational humanistic paradoxes that plumb the mysteries of art, faith, and much, much more." From his beginnings at an elite private school in Manhattan--the École des Élèves Supérieures--Wolfe went on to graduate, ultra cum laude, from Hillside College in Michigan, where he triple-majored in Applied Anthropology, Renaissance Sociometrics, and Ancient Chaldean. His senior thesis at Hillside--"Sometimes a Black Hat Is Just a Black Hat: Flannery O'Connor's Postmodern Turn in The Violent Bear It Away" was awarded the Derrida Tostitos (TM) Award from the Modern Linguistics Association. After these early triumphs there followed what have become known as "the wilderness years," as Wolfe struggled to discover his true vocation. He later emerged from obscurity to attend Kings College, Oxford, penning an MA thesis entitled "Git Along Little Dogies: The (Seriously!) Tragic Sense of Life in Cormac McCarthy's All the Pretty Horses." At Oxford, Wolfe met his future wife Suzanne, who not only rescued him from the wilderness but also burned the majority of his wardrobe, including a vintage Velcro ascot once worn by P.G. Wodehouse. Under Suzanne's influence, Wolfe decided to change the name of the quarterly he intended to found from Anagogy Today to Image (she also later urged him to change his proposed name for "The Earl Workshop" to "The Glen Workshop."). As Image continued to grow and expand, Wolfe found time to write a series of brilliant books, from intellectual tomes like Make Fiction, Not Culture Wars and Frak You, Frak Me: The Theological Aesthetics of Battlestar Galactica to children's books (co-authored with Suzanne) such as Erasmus Is da Bomb! and Thomas More and the Deathly Gallows. The rest is history.
Mailing Now: Image's Spring Supplemental
The first issue of Image was published twenty years ago, when Greg Wolfe was twenty-two years old, George H.W. Bush was president, and Madonna's "Like a Prayer" video was just hitting MTV. In celebration we're releasing a special supplement to our spring issue, with features we wanted to include but couldn't find room for. Issue 61 ½ features a symposium, "Visitations of the Uncanny," with Lauren Winner on the Mildly Odd, Robert Cording on a Vague Sense of Déjà vu, Jeanne Murray Walker on a Nagging Feeling of Being Watched, Andrew Hudgins on Something that Kind of Gave Him the Willies, and David James Duncan on How to Clean Fish. Also: Christopher Hitchens experiences a sickening sense of existential dread, wine and cheese pairings from Sister Wendy Beckett, Henri Nouwen's little-known love affair with Antiques Roadshow, Paul Mariani and Ron Hansen on the Ignatian spirituality of the zone defense, and new poems by Al Roker. And: Sara Zarr on why Jennifer Aniston is the new Simone Weil, Hannah Notess on why Sara Zarr is the new Jennifer Aniston, and Simone Weil on why Image is the new black. Longtime readers may notice a subtle shift in our editorial approach, but they'll find the same respect for mystery and artistic excellence that Image has always offered--now with a greater breadth of appeal as we seek to reach out to a wider audience and shore up revenues. Life is a mystery. Everyone must stand alone. I hear you call my name, and it feels like home.
Don't already subscribe? While supplies of the spring supplemental last, we'll include it free with new subscriptions when you subscribe online.
Image Fundraiser with Luci Shaw: May 1 at the Triple Door
Join us at the Triple Door in Seattle next month for an evening with Image's sweetheart, poet and spiritual writer Luci Shaw. An anniversary fundraiser, the evening will include a reading from Luci's new collection of poems, Listen to the Green: Then Give It to Image, and culminate in a raffle to "Win a Date with Luci Shaw." The winner will enjoy a day in beautiful Bellingham, Washington, escorting Luci to her morning Hot Yoga class, followed by a brisk hike up Mount Shucksun to assist Luci in looking for and photographing the elusive Showy Stickseed plant. Finish the day with a salmon dinner for two at her home, freshly caught from Lake Whatcom by Luci, followed by a devotional time specially crafted for your unexpressed spiritual yearnings. After a prayer that will bless your heart, don't be surprised if Eugene Peterson or Jeremie Begbie pops by for a nightcap--Luci's house is always open to visitors. When asked how she came up with the idea, Luci explained: "I'd be willing to bungee jump off a bridge for Image, but I realized I'd already done that, and I wanted a new challenge. I was watching The Bachelor the other night, and thought, I could do that. We all need to do our part for art inspired by faith." Luci laughed evanescently as she spoke with us, her husband John Hoyte smiling unpleasantly in the background. By popular demand, both men and women are welcome to purchase raffle tickets. Reserve tickets by emailing Julie Mullins here. Act fast--tickets are disappearing like "an uncurling / swirl of skyward birds.... The bathtub water scrolling down the drain.... like my life-- / to zero and the Everything of God "!
Art Salad: A Retrospective
Ernestine Heink-Crupsenpeltier's (1913–2001) decades-long exploration of the art salad established her as a progenitor and chief exponent of covered dish minimalism. Art Salad: A Retrospective: Seventy Years of Jell-O Salad in the Religious Imagination is the culmination of a major scholarly research effort and will be the first comprehensive retrospective of Heink-Crupsenpeltier's work. The exhibition will coincide with the publication of a definitive new catalogue as well as a symposium covering the various religious controversies surrounding Jell-O salad during the twentieth century. Featuring over four hundred works, both sacred and secular, the exhibition represents a broad cross-section of twentieth-century Jell-O salad art. The show will include the artist's early series, Icons, as well as her shocking and still powerful Lime Jell-O with Baloney Strips and Roman Soldier. In addition, sketches, drawings, and early collage-constructions will reveal the development of her ideas and working process. After exhausting the themes introduced in her early works, such as her pained, exulting, and deeply personal interrogation of motherhood, Angel in the House (apricot Jell-O, banana slices, baby teeth, and iron filings), Heink-Crupsenpeltier entered a more purely formal period, one that made her an art-world household name and brought Jell-O works out of the realm of Outsider Art and into the mainstream. Prominent among these mid-career works is the cerebral but quietly devotional Shape #4 (black Jell-O and hard-boiled eggs). By the late 1960s, Heink-Crupsenpeltier had established her own trajectory, exploring conceptual art salads, often incorporating chance elements into her work and becoming freer and more overt in her theological allusions. Her late masterpiece, a performance salad entitled Jell-O-rod-E-o, (featuring strawberry Jell-O, cranberry Jell-O, tapioca, gold-leaf see-saw, Cyndi Lauper, and military band) will be presented at the exhibition opening on Saturday, May 2, at 8:00 p.m. The show is organized by the Higher Road Baptist Church of Chillicothe, Texas, in association with the National Gallery of Art Salad of Washington, DC, and runs May 3 through August 29 at the Central Plains Art Center in Chillicothe.
Image Hires New Staff Member
This month Image celebrates the long-awaited arrival of a male staff member at its Seattle office. After nine years of exclusively female employees, former logging professional Dirk Stone has been hired as cultural liaison. For the most part, the integration of a y-chromosome has been pulled off with remarkable ease, except for an unfortunate incident involving the accidental consumption of scented potpourri ("I thought it was Chex Mix," grumbled Mr. Stone affably). The new addition has made substantial changes to the status quo in the cozy atmosphere at the Image House, beginning with a television in the break room "to catch the end of SportsCenter at lunch," now installed on the wall next to Barry Moser's wood engraving of Flannery O'Connor. "Image is always seeking to expand its readership and reach different pockets of society, and we felt that a cultural liaison, in particular a man who has not previously been an SPU student intern, could help us diversify our influence," said Mary Mitchell, managing editor. She paused before adding, "So far he has been very helpful in carrying up some boxes left over in the basement from the move." Image's female staffers are uniformly pleased with what Mr. Stone brings to the table. "Dirk has done a lot for morale," said director of programs, Julie Mullins. MFA program coordinator Beth Bevis added, "Ever since he built that porch on the back of the house and taught us all to play Beer Pong, working here has been a lot more fun." Said office manager Anna Johnson, "At first I thought it was a little weird how every day he would find some excuse to take off his shirt. But now I see that's part of what a good cultural liaison does: It's all about breaking down barriers." "He's so dreamy," simultaneously cooed interns Hayley Poole, Kendall Goodwin, and Elizabeth Cuneo, fluttering their eyelashes in unison. Not all reactions are positive, however. "What does he have that I don't have?" asked Greg Wolfe. The question was met by ringing silence.
Click here to read Dirk's C.V.
ImageNews -- The Scoop on Our Programs
Image Readings: Bret Lott
Bret Lott's fiction explores the beauty and dignity of ordinary things and ordinary people. His characters embody the old-fashioned virtues of modesty, hard work, and staying in it for the long haul. In his nonfiction and public addresses, he exhibits a keen and sometimes wicked sense of humor: he is at once a fervent Christian believer and an irreverent critic of the absurdities of modern culture--both inside the church and out. Bret is this month's featured author on Image Readings. Click here to listen.
Sixth Annual Denise Levertov Award Goes to Eugene Peterson
Join Image journal and acclaimed writer Eugene Peterson for the 2009 Denise Levertov Award lecture and reading and a celebration of Image's Twentieth Anniversary. Peterson, a contributor to Image and author of the bestselling The Message, will give a reading and commentary called "Intently Haphazard," about how the arts have formed his vocation as a pastor and writer, at University Presbyterian Church on Saturday, May 16, 2009 at 7:30 p.m. The event is free and open to the public and will be followed by a reception and book signing. Peterson is an SPU alumnus and Professor Emeritus of Spiritual Theology at Regent College in Vancouver, British Columbia, and founded Christ Our King Presbyterian Church in Bel Air, Maryland, where he pastored for twenty-nine years. He is a pastor and spiritual writer who has written more than thirty books, including A Long Obedience in the Same Direction, The Contemplative Pastor, and Eat This Book: A Conversation in the Art of Spiritual Reading. In his most recent book, Tell It Slant: A Conversation on the Language of Jesus in His Stories and Prayers, Peterson invokes Emily Dickinson's words: "Tell all the truth but tell it slant -- / Success in Circuit lies / Too bright for our infirm Delight / The Truth's superb surprise." Throughout his work, Peterson has insisted on the centrality of the imagination to the life of faith. He suggests that God's revelation comes through the ambiguities and nuances of story and lyric poetry--highly charged language that calls on our active participation and response for its full meaning to be grasped. With Dickinson, Peterson believes that "the Truth must dazzle gradually" through language that helps us move past "preconceptions, prejudices, defenses, stereotypes, and fact-dominated literalism" into "the language of...the Other." The Levertov Award is presented annually in the spring to an artist or creative writer whose work exemplifies a serious and sustained engagement with the Judeo-Christian tradition. Past recipients include poets Madeline DeFrees and Franz Wright, nonfiction writers Kathleen Norris and Thomas Lynch, and fiction writer Bret Lott. The event is co-sponsored by the Seattle Pacific University English department, the SPU MFA in Creative Writing, and University Presbyterian Church.
The 2009 Florence Seminar
On September 13-20, 2009, Image will gather a small group of inquirers in Florence and Rome to explore the life and achievements of the sculptor, painter, architect, and poet, Michelangelo Buonarroti. In his works we see the dignity of humanity and its fall, the emergence of the individual and the dangers of individualism, and a fierce struggle to harmonize beauty with goodness and truth. Yet for all the conflict and tension in his work, Michelangelo left us with exquisite images of how God's grace can transform human experience. In Image's twentieth anniversary year, we'll return to Italy to explore how Michelangelo's incarnational vision can inform our own efforts to continue bringing about cultural transformation in our time. Our week together in Italy will begin with a couple days in Rome, where we will visit the Vatican and other sites associated with Michelangelo. The remainder of the week will be spent in Florence, where we will visit the great churches and museums featuring the artist and enjoy exquisite meals at restaurants in the city and the surrounding area. If you're interested, visit the Florence Seminar page or contact Julie Mullins here to request a PDF or hard copy of the brochure.
Subscribe to Image in Print and Get More Art, Fiction, Poetry, Essays, Interviews, and Every Good Thing
If you like reading about great new art and writing inspired by faith in ImageUpdate, and you're ready to get down to reading and seeing the stuff itself, it's time to subscribe to Image. Each quarter our editors comb the world of art and letters to bring you our favorite new work--work that respects transcendent mystery as well as the gritty truth of the material world that bears the divine imprint. A one-year subscription gets you four beautifully produced issues delivered right to your door. Ninety percent of the journal's content is not available on our website, but only through what we call "the sacrament of print." Click here to get the magazine Terry Tempest Williams calls "evocative and inspiring" and Bret Lott calls "the most meaningful literary journal being produced today."
ImageUpdatePublisher: Gregory Wolfe
Managing Editor: Beth Bevis
Layout: Anna Johnson
Contributors: Mike Capps, Anna Johnson, Mary Kenagy Mitchell, Julie Mullins, and Gregory Wolfe
ImageUpdate is the biweekly e-mail newsletter from Image, a quarterly print journal that explores the relationship between Judeo-Christian faith and art through contemporary fiction, poetry, painting, sculpture, architecture, film, music, and dance. Each issue also features interviews, memoirs, essays, and reviews.
ImageUpdate brings you news about books, CDs, organizations, websites, conferences, exhibitions, and tours--all of which inhabit the intersection between faith and imagination. ImageUpdate will also notify you whenever a new issue of Image is printed, an Image event is upcoming, or new content is posted to our website.
Copyright © 2009 Center for Religious Humanism. All rights reserved.