The University of St. Thomas will present its annual Sacred Arts Festival Nov. 1-17. The 21st annual festival presents a variety of artistic traditions — visual arts, music, theater and film — that articulate humanity’s understanding of the divine.
Highlights of this year’s festival include an exhibit of French cathedral drawings by St. Olaf art professor Mary Griep, a poetry reading by national award-winning poet Mark Doty, the opportunity to walk a prayer labyrinth, a recital by renowned New York organist McNeil Robinson, and performances of Thornton Wilder’s classic comedy “The Skin of Our Teeth.”
All festival events below (except where indicated) are free and open to the public. For more information, call (651) 962-6560.
- Monday, Nov. 1, through Wednesday, Nov. 17, at the St. Paul Seminary School of Divinity: An exhibit of French cathedral drawings by Mary Griep, associate professor of art at St. Olaf College, explores the architectural harmonies of these Gothic and Romanesque cathedrals. Exhibit hours are 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday; and 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday.
- 5 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 2, in the Chapel of St. Thomas Aquinas: All Souls’ Day solemn vespers continue a centuries-old tradition of the Catholic Church. All Souls Day is a time to remember the dead and celebrate the communion of saints. This evening prayer service also will include premieres of student musical compositions.
- 7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 5, in 3M Auditorium of Owens Science Hall: Award-winning poet and author Mark Doty reads his poetry. Doty is the author of the memoir, Heaven’s Coast, which was selected by St. Thomas English Department as its common text for freshmen this year. Doty also is the author of five collections of poetry, including Sweet Machine (HarperCollins, 1998); Atlantis (1995), which received the Ambassador Book Award, Bingham Poetry Prize, and a Lambda Literary Award; My Alexandria (1993), chosen for the National Poetry Series and winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award and Britain’s T. S. Eliot Prize, and chosen as a National Book Award finalist; Bethlehem in Broad Daylight (1991); and Turtle, Swan (1987). Heaven’s Coast (1996) won the PEN/Martha Albrand Award for First Nonfiction. Doty has received fellowships from the Guggenheim, Ingram Merrill, Rockefeller, and Whiting foundations, and from the National Endowment for the Arts. He lives in Provincetown, Mass., and Houston, Texas, where he teaches at the University of Houston.
- Monday through Wednesday, Nov. 8-10, in St. Mary’s Chapel at the St. Paul Seminary School of Divinity: Walking a labyrinth is a ancient Christian tradition of meditation. Placards accompanying the 40-foot-square labyrinth, on loan from Hennepin Avenue United Methodist Church, tell more about this prayer tradition that recently has gained renewed attention. The labyrinth will be open from 8:30 a.m. -4:30 p.m. and 6:30-8 p.m. Monday; 11:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. and 6:30- 8 p.m. Tuesday; and 9 a.m. -3 p.m. Wednesday.
- 3:30-4:30 p.m. Monday, Nov. 8, at the St. Paul Seminary School of Divinity: Mary Griep, associate professor of art at St. Olaf College, leads a tour of her exhibit of French cathedral drawings, which were inspired by the cathedrals of Chartres, St. Benoit and St. Philibert. A reception follows.
- 8:15 p.m. Monday, Nov. 8, in the Chapel of St. Thomas Aquinas: Organ virtuoso McNeil Robinson will present a recital of works by Bach, Reger, Hindemith and Franck, and his own Chorale Prelude on “Llanfair.” Robinson is organist at Park Avenue Christian Church and the Park Avenue Synagogue in New York City and is chairman of the organ departments at the Mannes College of Music and the Manhattan School of Music. For two decades he was organist and choirmaster at the Church of St. Mary the Virgin in New York. Also active as a conductor and composer, he has recorded works on the Decca and Musical Heritage Society labels and has been commissioned to compose works by the archbishop of Canterbury, numerous American churches and the American Guild of Organists.
- 7 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, Nov. 11-13 and Nov. 18-20, in Foley Theater on St. Thomas’ St. Paul campus: The joint Theater Department of the University of St. Thomas and the College of St. Catherine will perform Thornton Wilder’s classic satire, “The Skin of Our Teeth. “
Winner of the 1942 Pulitzer Prize for drama, Wilder’s play chronicles the extraordinary adventures of the Antrobus family through the ages from the time of the war — any war. The Antrobuses have survived flood, fire, pestilence, the seven-year locusts, the Ice Age, the pox and the double feature, a dozen wars and as many depressions. Ultimately bewitched, befuddled and becalmed, they are the stuff of which heroes — and buffoons — are made. They have survived a thousand calamities by the skin of their teeth. The play is a tribute to their indestructibility and a testament of faith in humanity.
Tickets are $5 for general admission and free to students, faculty and staff with ID from the Associated Colleges of the Twin Cities (St. Thomas, St. Catherine, Augsburg, Hamline and Macalester). For reservations call (651) 690-6700.
- 7 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 13, in O’Shaughnessy Educational Center auditorium: Acclaimed director Gillian Armstrong’s 1997 film, “Oscar and Lucinda,” follows the unpredictable turns of two people from ends of the world who come together in a story of faith, love, fate and chance.
Oscar Hopkins (Ralph Fiennes) is a flame-haired minister who thinks like an angel and gambles like the devil. Lucinda Leplastrier (Cate Blanchett) is an Australian heiress who owns a glass factory and whose independent spirit is at odds with the conservative society in which she lives. Together they embark on the greatest risk of their l
ives — bringing a glass church to the Australian outback. Along the way, the two misfits discover their place in the world.