Religion, Spirituality and the Arts at Butler University in partnership with CTS

Religion, Spirituality, and the Arts: A Symposium is a Butler series to bring together people from diverse artistic disciplines and practice and religious/spiritual perspectives for sustained study and reflection on a Biblical text. The participants will be part of a seminar that will engage the sacred text as they seek inspiration to create new work (music, poetry, visual art, dance, drama, narrative, liturgical art). This work will be shared in the seminar and in a final exhibition.

Longtime religious leader, writer and teacher Rabbi Sandy Sasso (who has been adjunct faculty at Butler University and Christian Theological Seminary) will direct the seminar, produce an exhibition, and facilitate post-seminar discussions with clergy and other religious leaders about the intersection of the arts, spirituality and congregational life. The seminar faculty will be professors of religion, creative writing, art, music, dance and theater from Butler University and theologians on the faculty of Christian Theological Seminary. There will be a total of four professors along with Rabbi Sasso.

We see this as a meaningful collaboration between Butler and CTS, which have historic shared roots. Goals and objectives include: greater interaction between artists and religious communities; support for new interpretations of sacred texts; and support for the theological exploration of vocation in the arts.


Over the ages religion and the arts have had an historic partnership. Religion inspired creativity across artistic disciplines. In the past religion was the patron of the arts and artistic works found prominent expression in religious institutions. (Think of Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel ceiling, David and Pieta, Haydn’s Masses and Creation, Handel’s Messiah.) For many contemporary artists this connection no longer exists. The two disciplines often do not talk to one another.

A contemporary collaboration of religion and the arts will engage a new generation of creative people. For congregations the question is: how do you engage the arts and how would you benefit from an ongoing dialogue with the arts community? For artists the question is: how do you gain inspiration from sacred texts and how might engaging sacred texts enrich your art?

The Seminar

12 artists from the greater Indianapolis community will be selected through an application process to participate. Sessions will meet for 2.5 hours weekly for a total of six consecutive weeks. The seminar director and four faculty members will choose the common text. The seminar will be held twice during a calendar year—one in the spring semester, once in the fall semester, allowing two sets of 12 artists to participate.

  • An exhibition of the work of the seminar artists will follow the seminar series so that the artists can show their worker to a broader audience.
  • The seminar director will facilitate a panel discussion with the artists that will be created for clergy and other religious leaders in the greater Indianapolis area.
  • Artists and religious leaders will be encouraged to collaborate further, allowing artists to bring their works to local congregations for religious education classes, discussions and perhaps performances or other exhibition of their works.

2015 Spring Semester Details

Tuesday’s from 6:00 P.M.-8:30 P.M.
Butler University
Feb. 5, Feb. 12, Feb. 26, Mar. 5, Mar. 19, Mar. 26
Application deadline: November 24
(applicants will be notified by December 16)

2014 Fall/Winter Community Events
January 28, 6–8 P.M. — Exhibtion and community event at CTS featuring the art work from this series.

For more information, please visit the official Butler program web site or the program facebook page.

Watch the WFYI series overview

Watch a recap of the 2014 Religion, Spirituality and the Arts series