A Conversation with Artist Natalie Settles, Part 2

chimera_selectionContinued from yesterday. 

Image: Natalie, a lot of your recent artwork is temporary—that is, it’s drawn directly onto gallery walls and when the show is over, only photos are left. Can you speak to this?

Natalie Settles: Yes, these are works with lifespans. In fact, the installations are typically up for the same amount of time over which the lifecycle of a small annual plant would play out.

When viewers encounter one of these temporary works, they’re usually enamored with the scale and detail and take their time moving throughout the gallery, drinking it all in. Sometime toward the end of their visit with the work it hits them in the gut—this won’t last. The work will need to die. And so they stand and drink it in now with a kind of presence that comes from knowing this may be the last time they see and experience this space as it is—the last time they feel the presence of this work. [Read more...]

A Conversation with Artist Natalie Settles, Part 1

orn_and_arch_2This post was made possible through the support of a grant from The BioLogos Foundation’s Evolution and Christian Faith program. The opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of BioLogos.

Artist Natalie Settles, featured in the most recent issue of Image, “Evolution and the Imago Dei” , has long been fascinated by the biological sciences. She makes drawings and installation art that mix highly detailed botanical and zoological imagery with highly stylized forms, like Victorian decorative motifs. Her installation works are interactive; they use a gallery space to create an ecosystem in which the viewer becomes a participant. We asked her about her interest in the sciences, the temporary nature of her work, and the way she uses color. [Read more...]

Contemplative Questions: An Interview on Spirituality and Prayer with Fr. Raymond Shore, OP, Part 1

Spurred by both confusion and curiosity, I recently took a graduate course on contemporary spirituality and prayer that required us students to interview an “expert” on the meaning of those terms. As a result, I spoke at length with a Roman Catholic priest of the Dominican Order—The Order of Preachers—whose nom de plume is Fr. Raymond Shore. His perspective fascinated me.

5870093557_ae224540e3_mJan Vallone: Some people would say that spirituality is an awareness of human experiences that go beyond the material, like love, compassion, feeling at peace. They’d say that spiritual practices consist of any activities that facilitate these experiences. For them, walking in the woods, practicing yoga, meditating, and even having a manicure might be spiritual practices.

I take a yoga class, for example, and although it begins with rigorous exercise, it ends with savasana, corpse pose, when we lie facing upwards on our mats, close our eyes, relax our muscles, and quiet our minds. The sequence produces sensations of inner peace, and when we come out of the pose, we are prompted to take that peace out into the world by being kind and compassionate. After yoga, I find it much easier to be kind and compassionate. Is this a spiritual practice?

Fr. Raymond Shore: Not as you describe it. Spirituality is our approach to God. It’s how we draw close to him. It’s a process that produces a combination of thoughts, feelings, and actions, different for each of us, depending on our personality, but all directed toward the same end: union with God. [Read more...]

Death Comes for the Deconstructionist: An Interview with Daniel Taylor

By Caitlin Mackenzie 14288135_05fd9e848a_m

Daniel Taylor’s recent novel, Death Comes for the Deconstructionist, is a postmodern “whodunit” mystery that asks whether we discover truth or create it. Caitlin Mackenzie, of Wipf and Stock Publishers, talked to Daniel about the utility of detective fiction, the inspiration for his characters and landscape, and what spurred him to write his first novel after thirty years of nonfiction and short fiction.

Caitlin Mackenzie: Although you have published short fiction, your previous books have been nonfiction and this is your first novel. What inspired the genre move? How does fiction operate in a way for you that nonfiction does or cannot?

Daniel Taylor: The common denominator to almost all my writing over thirty years has been story telling—analyzing it and doing it. It does not feel greatly different to me to move between nonfiction and fiction. Memoir, for instance, uses all the devices and strategies of fiction—from scene to plot to dialogue. And we know how much invention goes into even recounting our memories. The biggest change is the absence in fiction of any remembered event to serve as a guide and limit to one’s imagination. Literally anything goes in fiction and that makes it both easier and harder. [Read more...]

Wearing God: A Conversation with Lauren F. Winner, Part 2

lauren winnerContinued from yesterday.

Image: A lot of history makes its way into your new book Wearing God, especially American history. Could you talk about what you think makes a good history book, the kind you like to read?

LW: Two things come to mind, and they don’t always show up in the same book. Some historical episodes lend themselves to almost novelistic writing, and in the last twenty-five years there has been a lot of interest among historians in taking craft seriously, experimenting with narrative form. You see it in writers like John Demos and Simon Schama.

That said, there are plenty of excellent, interesting history books that aren’t so much narratively interesting as they are interesting because of the argument they make or the evidence they’ve uncovered. I have always enjoyed so-called microhistories, where instead of writing a monograph about crime in early America, someone writes a case study of one infanticide in seventeenth-century Braunschweig.

I often enjoy this kind of history the way I enjoy a short story or novel. A favorite of mine is A Midwife’s Tale by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, which is essentially an exegesis of the diary of a midwife on the frontier of Maine at the turn of the nineteenth century. Ulrich’s book turned out to be quite helpful when, in writing Wearing God, I turned my attention to the Hebrew Bible’s likening God to a midwife. [Read more...]


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