“Sacred Waters” is the theme of the 32nd annual University of St. Thomas Sacred Arts Festival running now through May 23. The festival, open to the public, is a celebration of sacred art and an exploration of faith.
Festival events are free and take place on St. Thomas’ St. Paul campus.
- “Geography of Home” by Susan Armington, now through May 23, O’Shaughnessy-Frey Library: Susan Armington’s painting celebrates the geography of the Twin Cities area. Susan Armington explores cultures and places through her map paintings. Her interest in how art can encourage connections between communities comes through in her works. For the Sacred Arts Festival Armington’s painting “Geography of Home” will be displayed in the O’Shaughnessy-Frey Library through May 23. The piece celebrates the geography of the Twin Cities area, including rivers and streams, as well as the experiences of individuals who have come to the region and made it their home. A book that provides translations into English of these personal accounts, written in over 20 different languages, accompanies the painting. For more information about Susan Armington and her work visit http://www.thesusanarmington.com/.
- “The Vision Changes: The Eye Remembers,” March 1 through May 23, O’Shaughnessy Educational Center lobby gallery: A gallery exhibition of the work of six photographers. This exhibition features six photographers who have all made significant alterations in their lives and they document, both in words and photographs, how the paths they choose change their lives. Water, a vital and transforming force that cleanses, erodes, and nourishes, is included in some of the pieces.
- Music Department Organ Artist Series, at 8:15 p.m. Monday, March 7, Chapel of St. Thomas Aquinas: Konstantin Volostnov, Russian artist and guest organist. A graduate of the Moscow Tchaikovsky Conservatory, Volostnov has received first prize in several performance competitions throughout Europe. He participates in contemporary music events in Russia and has given concerts in France, Germany, Spain, the Netherlands and the United States. For more information visit http://www.volostnov.ru/bio_eng.htm.
- “On the banks of the rivers Ganga and Cauvery,” 7 p.m. Friday, March 11, Brady Educational Center Auditorium: Nirmala Rajasekar, world renowned veena player. The veena is a stringed instrument that dates back to the Vedic period, 1500 B.C., and Nirmala Rajasekar has played it in venues throughout the world. Recipient of a Bush artistic fellowship as well as a McKnight fellowship, Rajasekar is known for her talents in exploring South Indian Classical (Carnatic) music and her skills in creating collaborative projects with other music traditions, including western classical music and jazz. During the Sacred Arts Festival she will come to the University of St. Thomas twice. Her first performance, “On the Banks of the Rivers Ganga and Cauvery,” will give people the opportunity to experience Carnatic music and the relationship between music and Hindu spiritual beliefs to water (7 p.m. Friday, March 11, Brady Educational Center auditorium). For her second performance Rajasekar will participate in a collaborative project with Cantus, the UST Liturgical Choir and the Concert Choirs (With One Voice: unity through art, 8 p.m. Friday, April 8, Chapel of St. Thomas Aquinas). For more information about Nirmala Rajasekar visit http://nirmalarajasekar.com/.
- Martha Serpas Poetry Reading, 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 5, O’Shaughnessy Educational Center auditorium: Marth Serpas will present poems about the impact of environmental issues on the gulf region of Louisiana. Author Martha Serpas is known for two collections of poetry, “Côte Blanche” and “The Dirty Side of the Storm.” Her work has been published in The New Yorker, The Nation, Southwest Review, and Image: A Journal of the Arts and Religion, as well as in a number of anthologies, including the Library of America’s American Religious Poems. She holds degrees in English and creative writing from Louisiana State, New York University and the University of Houston, and a master of divinity from Yale Divinity School. As an educational consultant and as a poet-in-residence, she facilitates the teaching of writing to children in New York City classrooms. For the Sacred Arts Festival, Serpas will discuss her work, which addresses environmental issues in the gulf region of Louisiana, at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 5, O’Shaughnessy Educational Center auditorium. For more information visit http://www.julietdavis.com/clients/marthaserpas/.
- “Veins in the Gulf,” 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 6, John Roach Center, Room 126: A Sacred Arts Festival Film Screening. This documentary explores the cultural significance of the disappearing bayous in southern Louisiana. It includes interviews with people who are dependent or inspired by the environment from fishermen to poets. More information is available at http://veinsinthegulf.com/.
- “With One Voice: Unity Through Art,” 8 p.m. Friday, April 8, Chapel of St. Thomas Aquinas: The ensemble Cantus will collaborate with the Liturgical Choir and Concert Choir, featuring special guest Nirmala Rajasekar. Covering music that ranges more than 900 years, Cantus, a nine-member men’s singing group, focuses on classical music technique. Recipient of the City Pages’ Artist of the Year award, as well as the Classical MPR’s artists-in-residence program, Cantus will perform along with Nirmala Rajasekar, the St. Thomas Concert Choir and the Liturgical Choir in a program that explores how the arts can bring about unity and understanding between differing cultures and peoples. “With One Voice: Unity Through Art” takes place at 8 p.m. Friday, April 8, Chapel of St. Thomas Aquinas. For more information about Cantus visit http://www.cantusonline.org/concerts/cantusconcerts.htm. For more information about Nirmala Rajasekar visit http://nirmalarajasekar.com/.
- “The Tempest, 2010,” 7 p.m. Thursday, May 5, O’Shaughnessy Educational Center auditorium: A Sacred Arts Festival Film Screening. Featuring actress Helen Mirren, this 2010 production directed by Julie Taymor also includes actors David Strathairn, Djimon Hounsou and Russell Brand. Based on William Shakespeare’s play The Tempest, it offers students the opportunity to experience this action-packed comedy-drama with an interesting new twist – Prospero becomes Prospera.
For more information visit www.stthomas.edu/saf.