Twelve outstanding artists will be part of the first seminar of the Religion, Spirituality, and the Arts initiative, a six-week symposium at Butler University designed to bring people together from diverse artistic disciplines, practices and religious/spiritual perspectives for a sustained study and reflection on a biblical text. This is a project of the Butler Center for Faith and Vocation.

bluehouse0813 001Dawn Batson, Jean Benabou, Dan Cooper, John Domont, Casey Eskridge, Jason Griffith, Pam Blevins Hinkle, David Landis, Ray Marquette, Callie Smith, Julie Stewart and Denise Williams were selected from a large competitive group of interested applicants. Artistic disciplines include music composition, painting, photography, poetry, fiction, and sculpture.

“We are very excited by the caliber of the selected participants,” said Rabbi Sandy Sasso,  director of the seminar. “They represent talent across the artistic disciplines, and I am looking forward to working with such a dynamic group of artists alongside an outstanding faculty.

Michael Sells, Dean and Professor of Music Emeritus at Butler, Dr. Elizabeth Mix, Associate Professor Art History and Director of the Art Program at Butler, Hilene Flanzbaum, Professor of Modern Literature and Director of the MFA program at Butler, Dr. Frank Burch Brown, Professor of Religion and the Arts at Christian Theological Seminary, and Sasso will serve as the faculty.

“Through the seminar we are working to re-open the ancient dialogue between artistic expression and religious tradition,” Sasso said. “Just as sacred stories have inspired artistic expression, the artistic creation has helped to illuminate religious tradition, to expand and deepen its reach.”

The author of numerous books rooted in the Bible, including several book for children, Sasso has explored the rich landscape of the intersection of sacred text and creativity.  In addition she has collaborated closely with visual artists and musicians in exploring  Scripture and the arts.

Through the explorations of these artists and a culminating event at Christian Theological Seminary, the program will also allow clergy, pastor, theologians and other religious leaders to learn about new ways of understanding and sharing sacred text, according to Judith Cebula, who directs the Center for Faith and Vocation at Butler University.

There are two events that will be open to the public:

-April 5, 3 p.m. – As part of the Butler Arts Festival, a panel discussion entitled, ‘Bound by Story’ will feature the seminar faculty.

-April 30th,  5-7 p.m. – A culminating event at Christian Theological Seminary will include an exhibition and performance of the seminar artists’ resulting work as well as a discussion of their journey in exploring and wrestling with the biblical text.

Butler University gratefully acknowledges the generous support of Lilly Endowment Inc., which is funding the initiative.

Applications for the fall seminar will be accepted between April 1 and May 15. For more information, contact Sandy Sasso at

Media contact:
Marc Allan
(317) 940-9822