Artist of the Month: Jim Hinch
Jim Hinch is one of our favorite practitioners of that deeply satisfying form, literary journalism. His beat is California, and his writing is thoroughly grounded in that region's landscape, work, and eclectic mix of cultures—ancient and modern, glamorous and seedy, hedonistic and devout. Whether he's writing about art and drug recovery in East Los Angeles, the migrant workers of the San Joaquin Valley, or evangelical Asian Americans in Orange County, he combines earnest curiosity with a willingness to risk ambition. A good journalist honors his subjects by doing the difficult and humble work of getting the simple facts right; a literary journalist is willing to labor to arrange that information into something beautiful, even profound, rewarding readers with a glimpse of a larger pattern. Hinch seems to write with a faith that journalism can be not only well-crafted but philosophical, even theological—that by telling the truth, he can connect us with a larger Truth. In his pieces, we discover that common and un-poetic things have stories to tell, and that these stories can cast large shadows. Like Richard Rodriguez, Hinch seems to write to us from the America of the future—a time when the rest of the West, and maybe the nation, looks as diverse as the Golden State already does, where old definitions of liberal and conservative don't quite apply, where migrants from the eastern states can attempt to reinvent themselves, leaving their cultural baggage behind, but also where increasingly large minority groups retain deep connections to cultures far older than the Mayflower. We have a lot to learn from this new world, and Hinch makes a generous guide.
Read more about Jim Hinch or click here to read an excerpt of his work from Image issue 73.
Vampire Weekend: Modern Vampires of the City
While we at ImageUpdate generally seek to cover books and albums that aren't receiving as much of the spotlight as we think they deserve, and while Vampire Weekend already enjoys a hearty national following, we couldn't pass up the opportunity to recommend to you their most thematically complex album to date, Modern Vampires of the City, which unexpectedly (and unabashedly) explores the struggle of young urban millenials to believe and disbelieve in God. Now, before a listener registers the religious anxiety and unrest conveyed through the lyrics of these songs, the initial sonic impression is celebratory, featuring bright vocals, pert drums, and a signature precision in the layered sounds. The music is delibrately (and overwhelmingly) fun. In "Unbelievers," lead singer Ezra Koenig asks—with unsettling pep—questions about being damned to hell: "Is this the fate that half of the world has planned for me? / I know I love you / and you love the sea / but what holy water contains a little drop, little drop for me?" Later, in "Everlasting Arms," he sings, "If you'd been made to serve a master / you'd be frightened by the open hand," before launching into a flat-out worshipful chorus: "Hold me in your everlasting arms." In the track "Ya Hey," which puns irreverently on Yahweh, Koenig sings, "Oh, sweet thing / Zion doesn't love you / and Babylon don't love you / but you love everything.... Through the fire and through the flames / you won't even say your name. / Only 'I am what I am.' / But who could ever live that way?" The narrator of these songs is at turns devotional and cynical, inspired and abandoned by God, and the way these opposing sentiments are bound together with a consistent mirth is as disorienting as the world that Americans—especially young, affluent, and isolated millenials—inhabit every day. The last line of the album? "Take your time, young lion." It seems that Vampire Weekend is nowhere near the end of their spiritual wrestling. For anyone who feels the same way about religion, these songs will make interesting companions.
Click here to listen to samples and purchase a copy.
How the Light Gets In by Pat Schneider
Renowned teacher and prolific author Pat Schneider offers an interesting twist on the writing craft book with How the Light Gets In, which focuses on writing as a spiritual practice and the artist as a conduit for spirit. Beginning with Leonard Cohen's oft-quoted lines, "There is a crack in everything / That's how the light gets in," Schneider embarks on an exploration of the internal landscape of a practicing artist. "Her genius lies as much in her tenacity as in her talent," writes the author Sapphire, "and in her wild incredible belief that there is a force in the universe, a 'light' if you will, that we—'cracked' though we may be—can emit if we work hard enough." This is a repeated emphasis in the book: hard work. Schneider is, after all, a teacher, and her meditations on the craft of writing are no inducement to cutting corners. Rather, her vision of the artist as a spiritual seeker ups the ante: "When I begin to write, I open myself and wait. And when I turn toward an inner spiritual awareness, I open myself and wait." Schneider takes the act of writing and juxtaposes it with a myriad of spiritual themes: ransom, fear, forgiveness, death, strangeness, freedom, joy. In the process, she compels fellow writers to examine what makes writing a worthwhile endeavor, what it takes to grow in the practice, and what, ultimately, accounts for a work's singular luminosity. How the Light Gets In will captivate writers who are looking for an alternative to the typical "how-to" book—who are looking for a book both practical and reverential.
Purchase this book in print or digital.
Eyes of the Heart by Christine Valters Paintner
Eyes of the Heart by Christine Valters Paintner is a little like Madeleine L'Engle's classic Walking on Water, if L'Engle's book had focused on one form of art—photography—and included engaging questions for reflection and photographic exercises for all levels. The author says, "This book will draw on the language of photography—light and shadow, framing, use of color, reflections—in order to see differently, to offer an invitation to our spiritual eyes as well, as light and framing become metaphors for our inner life." This blend of inner and outer vision is useful and inspiring, providing both guided steps forward and big-picture inspiration to help any photographer renew their art by engaging it like a spiritual practice. Each chapter draws from the four steps of lectio divina—read, reflect, respond, and rest—and includes photographic exercises that function like visual prayers. Chapters like "Practices and Tools to Cultivate Vision" or "Seeing the Holy Everywhere" are woven through with wisdom from Rainer Maria Rilke and St. Benedict's Rule, offering tools like contemplative walking, meditation (or visio divina, sacred seeing, as Paintner calls it), and receiving images (rather than "taking" them). One exercise encourages readers to change their perspective in some way, by lying on the floor or climbing a ladder—and then reflect, from that new angle, on how they might see God in unexpected places or ways. Eyes of the Heart will be eye-opening for accomplished professional photographers and casual snapshot-takers alike, modeling for all a balance between outward presence and inward seeking.
Purchase this book in print or digital.
Aleksandr Kargopoltsev's Corner of My Mind at Inscape Gallery
Russian artist Aleksandr Kargopoltsev's exhibit Corner of My Mind is currently displayed at Inscape Gallery in Redmond, Washington. Aleks brings a great diversity of style to the canvas. He was born in the Soviet Union and attended an art college in City Red on the River Volga, in the Kostromas Province, before graduating and immigrating to the United States in 1993. He is a full-time artist whose work varies from traditional landscapes to the avant-garde, always enriching audiences by bringing the depths of history to surface with a fresh splash of awareness. Click here for more details.
Post here to reach thousands of readers interested in the intersection of art and faith. We welcome messages about job listings, local events, conferences, prizes, calls for papers, and more. Submit your messages by sending an e-mail here.
Seattle's Taproot Theatre Presents Illyria
This musical adaptation of Twelfth Night has all the hilarious hijinks and unrequited love of Shakespeare's famous comedy. A mistaken identity sets off a chain of events that have everything topsy-turvy. Written by Peter Mills and Cara Reichel—and praised by The New York Times—the adaptation translates Shakespeare's Twelfth Night into contemporary language, turning the soliloquies into songs. By doing this, the musical maintains Shakespeare's poetic sense while making it approachable for those who are intimidated by Shakespeare and presenting a new perspective for those who are already fans. The musical will run from July 12 to August 10. For more information, click here.
"Kickstart" David Orth's Sacred Tree Project
Sculptor David Orth has launched a Kickstarter campaign that will allow him to build a large sculpture and donate it to the chaplains at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in the Chicago area. People visiting hospitals are tired, frightened, grieving, or supporting those who are. The object of this sculpture, a nine-foot heavy steel arc in which a brilliant gold-leaf tree is planted, is to be a multi-faith symbol of the resiliency of life. For more information—and to help back the project—click here.
Two Job Openings at Spiritual Directors International
Click here to find out about two job openings at Spiritual Directors International based in Bellevue, Washington. The positions are "Communications and Engagement Specialist" and "Educational Events Specialist."
Seeking Information on Artists-in-Residence
Saint Benedict's Table, a slightly unconventional Anglican congregation located in Winnipeg, Canada, is in the midst of establishing an "artist in residence" position, and would like to touch base with others who have experiences and job descriptions to share. If you have any information, please write Jamie Howison.
Call for Papers: Arts + Narrative Conference
Stories shape us. Personal, religious, national, and global identities are created and mitigated by creative myths about whom we are, our relationships to others, and our place in the world. Today, just as in the past, the arts play a key role in telling and creating the stories that shape culture. The 7th Verge Conference at the School of the Arts, Media + Culture at Trinity Western University in British Columbia, on September 26 and 27, will seek to explore the historical and ongoing ways that different art forms (and particularly interdisciplinary arts) relate to narrative. This conference welcomes submissions from any discipline that explores the topic under consideration. The deadline for proposals is July 15. Click here for more information.
ImageNews -- The Scoop on Our Programs
Brought to You...By Someone
If you're reading this paragraph, it's because someone is making it possible for IMAGEUpdate to exist. As a free service, IU depends on the crucial 44% of the IMAGE budget that comes from donors.
Not only do gifts to IMAGE support IU, they empower this community. They enable IMAGE to continue:
• to grow emerging talent through the Glen Online,
• to sponsor a writer developing a full-length manuscript through the Milton Fellowship,
• to convene the best and the brightest at the Glen Workshops, and
• to showcase contemporary work in our blog and quarterly journal.
IMAGE donors have built a formerly scrappy upstart organization into a resourceful community where world-class art can be showcased and fostered. And helpful, informative services like IMAGEUpdate can be provided for free.
Click here to donate now.
Glen West 2013: Spots Available!
You can still register for the 2013 Glen West Workshops! Glen West is in Santa Fe, NM (July 28-August 4, 2013). 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 over fifteen years, a place where participants new and seasoned practice and strengthen their craft and vision—and there are still spots available! Glen West features classes by novelist Larry Woiwode, poets Julia Kasdorf and Amy Newman, painter Wayne Forte, play/screenwriter Buzz McLaughlin, photographer Fritz Liedtke, film director Scott Derrickson, spiritual writer David McGlynn, as well as an explorer's track with Jeffrey Overstreet. Our chaplain will be Richard Rohr. This year's theme for both events is Border Crossings: Art and Risk. As artists we encounter many types of borders, from the geographical to the existential, from divides between cultures, customs, and individuals, to the even more mysterious borders between heaven and earth. To cross a border is to encounter difference, to become confused, to find oneself a stranger in a strange place, from comic faux pas to instances of shattering loss. Yet for the artist, this kind of risk is critical for making art. These ideas will provide a focal point for discussion. We can't to meet you there!
Please note that class sizes are limited, and a few are already full: don't wait to register!
Find class descriptions, faculty bios, 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."
Publisher: Gregory Wolfe
Managing Editor: Tyler McCabe
Layout: David Rither
Contributors: Tyler McCabe, Mary Kenagy Mitchell, 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 © 2013 Center for Religious Humanism. All rights reserved.