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Art and the Religious Imagination

Release date: November 18, 2014

In this program presented on March 29, 2009, a panel of distinguished museum directors and theologians discussed the roles that secular and religious art museums can play in the presentation of art with spiritual and religious content. They also explored how spiritual and religious art has the potential to invite viewers into a deeper interior journey.

Terrence Dempsey, SJ, recounted the genesis of the world's first interfaith museum of contemporary art. Pamela Ambrose described how an existing private university museum's mission was extended and enriched, while Gerald Bolas reflected on the challenges facing a public university art museum in showing work that relates to religion and spirituality. Charles Bouchard, OP, examined MOCRA's Good Friday exhibition through the lens of Christian theological reflection.

Part 1

Part 2

Related Episodes

Episode 5: Pamela Ambrose and Ena Heller
Episode 20: Pamela Ambrose


Producer: David Brinker
Videography: Cengiz Yar
Editing: Tangent Mind, LLC


Art and the Religious Imagination panel

from left: Charles Bouchard, Pamela Ambrose, Gerald Bolas, and Terrence Dempsey. Photo by Jeffrey Vaughn.


Pamela Ambrose

"The Spiritual in Art and the Public Response"
Pamela Ambrose
Loyola University Museum of Art (LUMA), Chicago

Gerald Bolas

"Sacred Objects in the Secular Art Museum"
Gerald T. Bolas
Executive Director
Raleigh Arts Commission
former Director Ackland Art Museum, University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill

Charles Bouchard, OP

"Suffering and the Presence of God in Good Friday"
Charles Bouchard
Provincial, Dominican Central Province
former Vice President for Theological Education Ascension Health, St. Louis

Moderated by

Terrence Dempsey, SJ

"The Museum of Contemporary Religious Art:
Reflecting on Fifteen Years of the Pursuit of the Spirit,"
Terrence Dempsey, SJ Founding Director
Museum of Contemporary Religious Art (MOCRA)
Saint Louis University, St. Louis

Photos by Jeffrey Vaughn.