All sessions will be held in Marvin K. Mayers Auditorium in the Intercultural Studies building located behind the University Art Gallery on Biola’s main campus.


6:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.

Dessert Reception – ICS Lobby

7:30 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.

Moderator : Jonathan Anderson, Biola Art Faculty

Roundtable Discussion : Roger Feldman, Daniel Siedell & Rachel Hostetter Smith


9:30 a.m. – 9:45 a.m.

Introduction : Loren Baker, Biola Art Department Chair

9:45 a.m. –10:00 a.m.

Visiting Artist : Roger Feldman

Roger Feldman is the symposium’s visiting artist. Throughout the day he will discuss attempts to integrate his faith w/ the visual by highlighting specific pieces he has created over his prolific career.

10:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.

Keynote Address : James Elkins


On the Strange Place of Religion in Contemporary Art explains the curious disconnect between spirituality & current art. In his talk, Dr. Elkins will show why committed, engaged, ambitious, informed art does not mix w/ dedicated, serious, thoughtful, heartfelt religion. Wherever the two meet, one wrecks the other. Modern spirituality & contemporary art are rum companions; either the art is loose & unambitious, or the religion is one-dimensional & unpersuasive. That is not to imply the two sides should maintain their mutual distrust, but that talk needs to be very slow and careful.

11:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.

Response #1 : Daniel A. Siedell

“ON THE STRANGE PLACE OF CONTEMPORARY ART IN RELIGION : Elkins’s Challenge to Christian Artistic & Critical Practice”

The Christian arts & intellectual community will squander the important service Elkin’s book offers if it cannot resist the temptation to find examples that “refute” his thesis. Rather than get lost in the details, Christians must step back to view the broad contours of Elkins’s understanding of “contemporary art” & “religion,” & reflect on why, as an observer, he has come to such conclusions. Is it possible that Elkins’s conclusion is the result of his dissatisfaction w/ the quality of “contemporary art” & “religion” that he sees embodied in contemporary religious art? Understood in this way, Elkins’s book can be helpful in re-vitalizing Christian artistic & critical practice. On the Strange Place of Religion in Contemporary Art offers important opportunities to rethink the relationship between religion, spirituality, & contemporary art.

11:30 a.m. – NOON

Response #2 : Christina Valentine


The artist who is a practitioner of faith & art is one that lives a contradiction within both the art & religious communities. By looking at other identity models that deal w/ similar kinds of contradiction & omission, another means of bridging the two arenas is possible. Experimental in its scope, the idea of a pluralistic, hybrid identity is one avenue through which to gain agency within the worlds of both art & religion.

NOON – 2:00 p.m.

Lunch Break – Conversation w/ Dr Elkins

QUESTIONS & ANSWERS over an Italian Lasagna Buffet in the Cafeteria Banquet Room.

This event is $10.00 & requires the purchase of a ticket in advance. (Seating is limited to 100 guests.) Other options for lunch include Brunch at the Biola Cafeteria for $7.00 (cash) or nearby, off campus restaurants.

2:00 p.m. – 2:15 p.m.

Visiting Artist – Roger Feldman
2:15 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Response #3 – Karen Kleinfelder


In an age when plastic surgery has made it seem natural to redesign oneself, when biochemistry means altering mind as well as body, when the human genome has been decoded, & cloning plus “designer” evolution are no longer mere science fiction but within our technological grasp, it is the question of the post human that makes a rethinking of the humanist tradition—and its current connect or disconnect from God–seem so pressing for the arts. In her talk Dr. Kleinfelder will tackle challenges posed to both humanism & theology by an emerging post human art scene, but also point to a possible position of reconciliation between postmodernism’s focus on fragmentation & diversity & what seems so diametrically opposed to it: the oneness of God. Complexity theory provides a way to start closing the gap by introducing a notion of non-totalizing wholes, which can accommodate the boundary breakdowns between humans, animals, machines, and whatever lies beyond the physical.

3:00 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.

Coffee Break

3:30 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Response #4: Rachel Hostetter Smith

“OUTSIDE THE GATES?”: Implications of On the Strange Place of Religion in Contemporary Art for Artists & the Role of Art in Society”

What is the role of art in society today? How do artists perceive their calling & the arenas within which they may aspire to work? Are artists of faith relegated to work “outside the gates” of the “art world” as Elkins defines it? These are just several of the questions raised by Elkins’ portrayal of the state of the “art world” in On the Strange Place of Religion in Contemporary Art. Assuming Elkins’ assessment is accurate, Smith will consider a range of the implications for artists and–perhaps more importantly–for the place of art in contemporary life, & present a number of different approaches people of faith may take in pursuing a calling in art.

4:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Moderator: Jonathan Anderson, Biola Art Faculty
Panel Discussion: James Elkins & Symposium Participants

5:00 p.m. – 5:15 p.m.

Visiting Artist – Roger Feldman

5:45 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.

Book Signing w/ Dr. Elkins & Hors D’oeuvres Reception : Café Banquet Room
Appetizers, live music & good conversation set the stage for an enjoyable evening together.

7:00 p.m.

Symposium Banquet & Art Alumni Reunion Dinner w/ Tim Timmerman, Art Alumnus, Comedian Extraordinaire

All symposium attendees, art alumni and friends of the Biola Department of Art are invited to join us for a feast of great cuisine & surprising delights that make for a stimulating conclusion to an unforgettable day. Art alumnus, Tim Timmerman will be our Master of Ceremonies for the evening’s entertainment. The alumni art catalog, A Curious Match Made in Heaven: Biolart at 35 will be presented at the end of the evening and made available for purchase.

This event is $10.00 & requires the purchase of a ticket in advance.

No Cost Event
The symposium is free and open to the public at no charge. However, donations of any size are encouraged to offset conference expenses. For more information.... call (562) 903-4807

The papers presented in this symposium will be published in the March 2009 CIVA SEEN Journal.