Issue #246 | July 18, 2012
IMAGE Journal has been available since April in a dazzling digital format as well as in the classic print form. We're now excited to announce a combination print + digital package subscription—the best value we've offered yet—for the IMAGE reader who likes to have options. For those of you who haven't yet tried the digital edition, it's offered through Zinio*, an online marketplace that helps us turn each issue into a slick and easily accessible e-book. Known as "the iTunes of magazines," Zinio also publishes titles like Harper's, The Paris Review, and Poets & Writers, and their digital content is readable on laptop, desktop, iPad, and Kindle Fire. We've offered print and digital subscriptions separately for a few months now, but now's your chance to get both for a steeply discounted package price of $49.95—$20 less than the price when subscribing separately! If you've been a longtime IMAGE reader, or if you're just getting to know the journal, we're looking forward to the exciting possibilities of the digital edition of IMAGE. Not only will the digital edition of the journal give IMAGE's artists a wider audience—broadening our community and giving the art and writing in our pages the expanded venue it richly deserves—but digital also has media capabilities like embedded video and audio that will greatly enrich our content in the near future. We envision a host of goodies accessible with a click in the journal's pages: plenary lectures from the Glen Workshops, IMAGE Seminars, and other events; streaming video of featured artists leading a gallery tour; audio recordings of writers reading their work—and much more.
Subscribe to both the print and digital editions here.
*Note that new users must register with Zinio and download Zinio Reader to read IMAGE offline, but registration is free and the download process is simple, and Zinio takes good care of its millions of readers.
And when you have a chance, let us know what you think!
Helen Schulman calls Christopher R. Beha's What Happened to Sophie Wilder "an old-fashioned literary novel," and, indeed, there is something old-fashioned about this book. The writer Charles Blakeman lives with his cousin, Max, in a house on Washington Square, a setting that raises the specter of Henry James; their circle of young, urban dandies might've been cast by Evelyn Waugh. Charlie himself bears the stamp of Nick Carraway or Hans Castorp or Proust's Marcel: a morose naïf plagued by a girl he can't have. From the moment he meets her in a college writing workshop, Charlie Blakeman loves Sophie Wilder in an obsessive, obliterating way. She loves him, too, but soon betrayal and her religious conversion sweep her away from Charlie. He watches from afar as she makes a splash with her debut collection of stories; his own first book is a flop. The two lose touch for six years until she appears at the house on Washington Square. Sophie Wilder has the inscrutable quality of a great literary muse; her baffling conversion from a latter-day Edna St. Vincent Millay to a catechized Catholic recalls conversion stories from Paul of Tarsus to Graham Greene's The End of the Affair. Still, the source and substance of her faith remain mysterious. On Washington Square, Sophie tells Charlie about her father-in-law, Bill Crane. In the last days of Crane's life, Sophie nursed him, alone, in his dingy apartment in Lower Manhattan. Wracked by cancer and bitter toward God ("I would have to believe in Him, to hate Him as much as I do"), Crane wants Sophie to put him out of his misery. Here is where the book most deeply probes the substance of Sophie's faith. Watching Crane suffer, Sophie's lamentations echo Job. The book isn't a theodicy, however. In the face of suffering, it's not God in the hot seat, but literature itself: stories as the medium of transformation and redemption. Charles and Sophie are writers. It was Sophie who taught Charles that "stories could free us from experience." It was she who suggested to him that the facts of story are incidental to the act of storytelling itself. As the novel confronts the brute facts of suffering and loss, it isn't faith in God that's tested, but faith in the God-like power of the author to bring into being something new.
Ready to begin reading? You can purchase this book here.
There's been a lot of criticism in recent years about the "memoir craze"—the flood of books that obsessively and narcissistically reveal every dysfunctional detail of a person's life. There have also been notorious instances where stories have been found out to be fraudulent, in whole or in part. Much of this criticism has been valid, of course, but one of the casualties of the debate has been a muddying of what the memoir form can be at its best. The greatest memoirs are never speaking just about the author: they chronicle a world—a particular time and place—and what it was like to be alive in that world. This is a truth that Robert Clark learned long ago, and it has been a hallmark of his nonfiction books, including My Grandfather's House and Dark Water. In My Grandfather's House, Clark explored his family history from its obscure origins in Renaissance England and transplantation to the New World through its brushes with Transcendentalism and on to his own particular story, culminating with his conversion to the Catholic faith of his earliest ancestors. In Dark Water, he tells the tale of the 1966 flood that devastated Florence, Italy, but also limns his own love affair with Italy and the way art and faith mingle in that culture. With Bayham Street: Essays in Longing, Clark takes a somewhat different approach. This is a "memoir-in-essays" similar to the "novel-in-stories" form. These essays speak of his youth, his parents' early divorce, his mother's disastrous second marriage, his hungry search for sexual and romantic fulfillment. But each of these essays also tells a parallel story that deepens and enriches the personal story. "Worldly" is not only about his childhood but about television in the 1950s: Dave Garroway, Arthur Godfrey, and Chet Allen. "How to Love" is about his love life and also about his passion for West Side Story and its composer, Leonard Bernstein. The title essay is named after the street where Charles Dickens lived, but that piece also speaks of Dresden and Orvieto, places in Europe that Clark has visited and mused upon. IMAGE was privileged to publish what may be the finest essay in this collection, "Darkroom," which tells of the young Clark's fascination with photography and a mysterious, wounded photographer with whom he apprenticed. Bayham Street is heartbreaking proof that the memoir can be about self and world, the personal, yes, but also the social and aesthetic and metaphysical.
Samuel Thomas Martin's debut novel dives right into the densest mysteries of life in relationship—the "blessed snarl" of its title. The novel is woven with opposing convictions: Catholicism and Protestantism, murder and innocence, the spirituality of art and of speaking in tongues—a warp and weft that is pulled tight by anger and let loose again by grief. All this set into an icy Newfoundland landscape (where Martin lives) that wreaks its own chaos on its inhabitants. When Patrick Wiseman, a Pentecostal minister, moves to the rocky island to start a church plant with his wife, Anne, and college-age son, Hab, old wounds begin to surface. One is the unhappiness that drives Anne to begin a Facebook affair with her old high school crush; one is the crime that Patrick's father, a latent Catholic mystic, may or may not be covering up. The stories of the Wiseman family overlap with several first-person narrators: Natalie, Hab's love interest, whose childhood faith was incinerated in a fatal apartment fire; and her roommate Gerry, a self-destructive writer tormented by his father's crimes. Fire appears again and again—as a destructive force of nature and as a metaphor for the kindling of the Holy Spirit that Patrick continually seeks. There is a deep sense of the intermingling of sin and holiness in A Blessed Snarl: relationships are like "broken hinges," swinging back and forth from love to hurt, connected at the root. Martin's fiction is reminiscent of that of Melanie Rae Thon—both writers craft prose that filters light into the darkest, most desperate narratives and picks up glints of enduring hope. Despite the heaviness of the material, Martin's fine hand with characterization makes moments of longed-for reunion ring true: "But the smile on Hab's face and his arm-waving makes Patrick think that his son is okay with his awkwardness and lame stories—his failure. That Hab loves him despite everything. That there is still a chance he might be saved."
Read A Blessed Snarl here.
The Art of Faith by Judith Couchman
If you've ever stood before a classic Christian painting—The Last Supper or The Fall of Man, say—and wanted to pull all your hair out trying to understand what it means, you're not alone. For the unschooled art lover, the college art student, the traveler of museums, there is now The Art of Faith to help, a new guide to Christian art. What is the context of The Fall of Man, anyway? Look up the section on Christian artistic eras under "Baroque." Why does that cross have two horizontal bars, and why is that one upside down? Check the section on cross symbolism. Why is that angel holding what seems to be a spear? Find out by perusing the section on angels. Remarkably easy to use due to its intuitive organizational system, The Art of Faith is a great study companion for the casual questioner, the curious churchgoer. Judith Couchman is an international speaker, a professor of art history at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs (UCCS), and she has authored over 40 books and compilations. But her goal for this guidebook was not to cram it with the jargon of a seasoned art historian; she writes, "You won't find the usual style conventions for scholarly art books and textbooks." What you will find, however, are explanations of formal garments, geometric shapes, real and mythical animals, monograms, and vessels common to Christian art—as well as clarifying pictures along the way. Couchman also fully cites the locations for works of art, from the country and city to the common English names of churches, galleries, libraries, or museums—which makes her guidebook indispensable for travels and pilgrimages. Throw in a comprehensive glossary in the back, and you can see why this book will be nestled in backpacks and hand worn by many for years to come.
Buy your copy today!
Scott Burnett's The Raggedness of Light at Inscape Gallery
Through September 28, Washington Seminary's Inscape Gallery in Redmond will host The Raggedness of Light by artist Scott Burnett. For Burnett, painting became a bracketed space of meditation and soul-care after year of specializing in music. It was his means of escaping everyday stresses and frustrations without disconnecting from his family, since he painted in the living room. He started researching and experimenting with acrylic paints, paint brushes, palette knives, glazing media, etc. He claims that the discovery inherent in the process is among his favorite facets of art-making. At the prompting of his wife, Burnett went public with his paintings in May 2011, and his paintings since then have sold at a regular clip. This is a viewing experience not to be missed for the depth and richness of seeing the soul of an artist expressed in the raggedness of light that sweeps across his canvases. For more information, click here.
Fare Forward Recently Launched
This summer six recent college graduates launched Fare Forward, a journal of Christian thought for the next generation, which takes its name from T.S. Eliot's Four Quartets. As undergraduates, Fare Forward's editors all worked on The Dartmouth Apologia, a Christian magazine at Dartmouth College. The success of Apologia and like-minded publications at other elite universities inspired the editors to create this new journal. Fare Forward's founders are aiming to reach their peers, a demographic sociologists have called "emerging adults": young people who have graduated from college and face a period of transition and uncertainty as they enter post-educational settings. Fare Forward intends to be a space for emerging adults to engage with a thoughtful Christian worldview that integrates faith, reason, service, and vocation. As a critical review, Fare Forward will showcase dialogue between its Christian worldview and other intellectual and cultural trends influencing our national discussions. For more information, visit their website and Facebook.
Ruminate Magazine's Kalos Foundation Visual Art Prize
Ruminate Magazine announces the 2012 Kalos Foundation Visual Art Prize! This year's competition will be juried by award-winning artist Bruce Herman. The first place winner will receive a $2,500 cash prize along with publication in Issue #26 of Ruminate Magazine (set to release in mid-December 2013). The runner-up recipient will also be published in Issue #26. The prize is open to all mediums and artists of all levels; there are no geographical restrictions; and the deadline is August 15, 2012. The $20 entry fee also includes a complimentary copy of Issue #26. For full submission details please visit their website.
Taproot Theatre's Chaps! Opens Soon
Ever wonder what would happen if Monty Python met Roy Rogers? It's 1944 and America's favorite singing cowboys are saddled up to take the British airwaves by storm. There's just one problem: the crooners are no-shows. What's the BBC to do? These blokes must convince the whole of England that they're a band of guitar pickin' American singing cowboys. Pull on your boots, loosen your tie, and get ready for a summer musical that'll rope you in and leave you in stitches. Chaps! will run from July 13 to August 11. Click here for more details, show times, and ticket purchase.
The Creative Church Conference: Embracing the Arts in Your Church
The Creative Church Conference is a forum for ideas and practices that can take churches and artists to new levels of glorifying God through the use of the arts. Running July 13-15 in Boise, the conference will offer inspiration and ideas for churches and artists at all levels—whether you have a flourishing arts ministry, or are an individual artist looking to spark the arts in your church. Artists and creative teams will discover inspiration for projects, community-building, character and creative development, and more. Pastors and leaders will discover how to release the godly creativity inherent in everyone in your congregation, how to start and maintain arts ministry, how to disciple and lead artists, and how to transform the church into a place that shares God's love in uniquely creative ways. Attendees can share their personal experiences during panel discussions and open forums. Artists will join in arts-oriented services. Speakers include Rory Noland (The Heart of the Artist), J. Scott McElroy (Finding Divine Inspiration/New Renaissance Arts Movement), Jessie Nilo (VineArts Boise), Manuel Luz (Imagine That), Dave Blakeslee (Potter/ Pastor), and Cecilia Brie Tschoepe (Arts Pastor). The conference is $75. Click here for more information.
ImageNews -- The Scoop on Our Programs
Glen West 2012 Registration Is Still Open!
It’s still available: registration for the 2012 Glen West Workshop in Santa Fe, NM (July 29-August 5, 2012). The Glen Workshop, a weeklong event combining the best elements of a workshop, an arts festival, and a symposium, has been a cornerstone of the IMAGE community for many years now, where participants practice and strengthen their craft and vision. Glen West boasts the return of poets Robert Cording and Betsy Sholl, fiction writer Bret Lott, painter Kim Alexander, songwriters Over the Rhine, illustrator Barry Moser, and welcomes new faculty: photographer Michael Wilson, spiritual writer Susanne Antonetta, and director/screenwriter Scott Derrickson with a film seminar. This year's theme for the event is "The Generations in Our Bones: Art as Tradition": Does belonging to the tradition of religious faith change the way we respond to our literary and artistic influences? Is it possible to balance strength with humility, to develop our own voices while still engaging deeply with the great traditions that have equipped and formed us? Please note that class sizes are limited, and a couple are already more than half full: don't wait too long to register!
Find class descriptions, videos, and registration information here.
Subscribe to Image in Print or Digital 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" (and recently, through a dazzling digital edition from Zinio). 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: Tyler McCabe
Layout: David Rither
Contributors: Anna Johnson, Tyler McCabe, Nicole Miller, Taylor Olsen, 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 © 2012 Center for Religious Humanism. All rights reserved.