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Religion, Spirituality & The Arts Seminar

Religion, Spirituality & The Arts Seminar

in partnership with Christian Theological Seminary


Thank you for your support.


Please join us for our round 6 exhibition opening:

"Creation & Creativity, Adam and Eve"

to be held at Christian Theological Seminary on Wednesday, February 28 (1000 W 42nd Street)

6pm - Reception and art exhibit

6:30pm - Performance Program, Shelton Auditorium 

free and open to the public


Congratulations to the selected round 6 artists:

Becky Archibald, Emily Bennett, Ellie Brown, Anastasiya Combs, Linda Henke, Elizabeth Kenney, Brigid Manning-Hamilton, Bonnie Maurer, Tracy Mishkin, Mary Sexson, Jennifer Swim, and Karen Van De Walle

What is the Religion, Spirituality & the Arts Seminar?

Religion, Spirituality & the Arts—directed by Rabbi Sandy Sasso: This Symposium is a new initiative to bring people together from diverse artistic disciplines, practices and religious/spiritual perspectives for a sustained study and reflection on a Biblical text. Selected 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). These works will be shared in the seminar and in a final community exhibition.

We now have available RSA education and curriculum materials that are provided for community use on our wordpress site. The first collection is on Genesis 22, The Binding of Isaac.

Round 6 Seminar: we will explore "Creation" Genesis 1 & 2, Adam and Eve 

Creation- Genesis 1-2:2

In the beginning… was there nothing, or did the earth already exist unformed?  Was the first creative act a crafting out of the void or an ordering out of chaos?  Might the creative process that yields music, painting, poetry and dance be both – the chaotic swirl of thought and feeling and the breathing out of form, or the calling up from emptiness something altogether new and original?  The author of the first chapter of Genesis seeks to capture not the science of creation but its majestic wonder. 

Discover the art, music, poetry and religious interpretations that give expression to the first 33 verses of the Bible.  Consider the following questions:  What is creativity? What was the light of the first day of creation and how does it differ from the light of the sun and the moon?  What is the place of withdrawal and separation in creation?  What is the image of God?  Should humans have been created? Is rest a part of creation or the cessation of it?

The RSA seminar is a place for artists to reflect on the text, argue with it, challenge it, build open it and to create from it.


Past Seminar Topics

For Rounds 1 and 2 the selected text was “The Binding of Isaac,” Genesis 22. The narrative raises many theological and human questions and has been the inspiration for musical compositions, paintings, sculptures and poetry.

For Rounds 3 and 4 the text was “Cain and Abel,” Genesis 4. This narrative raises many questions about the nature of humanity and good and evil. It has been the inspiration for music, visual art, literature and poetry.

For Rounds 5 the text was based on "Creation" Genesis 1 & 2, and for Round 6, "Creation" Genesis 1 & 2, with focus on Adam & Eve.

Past Participants

Round 1 participants in the seminar held during Spring 2014 included: Dawn Batson, Jean Benabou, Dan Cooper, John Domont, Casey Eskridge, Jason Griffith, Pam Blevins Hinkle, David Landis, Ray Marquette, Callie Smith, Julie Stewart and Denise Williams.

Round 2 participants in the seminar held during Fall 2014 included: Jean Arnold, Gabrielle Cerberville, Anthony Elia, Kim Charles Ferrill, Heidi Fledderjohn, Sofiya Inger, Bruce Loewenthal, Gail Payne, Kyle Ragsdale, Wendy Vergoz, Shelly White Wood and Roger Roe.

Round 3 participants in the seminar held during Spring 2015 included: Von Biggs, Michael Brady, Hector Hernandez, JL Kato, Kris Mobley, Kate Oberreich, Terry Ofner, Sherry Polley, Ben Rose, Jeff Rothenberg, Gary Walters and Michele Wood.

Round 4 participants in the seminar held during Fall 2015 included: LorrieLee Andrews, Reid Bruner, Jodie English, Bess Lee, Laura Levine, Ann Luther, Jacquie Reed, Thomas Richards, Jessica Springman, Laura Storrs, and Paula Wright.

Round 5 participants in the seminar held during Fall 2016 included: Becky Archibald, Monica Bergers, Phillip Campbell, Bianca Dudeck-Mandity, Laura Friesen, Steven Hecking, Mark Kesling, Cagney King, Joe Lee, Elizabeth Mosier, Jeffrey Nelson, Quincy Owens, Mary Redman and Stephanie Robertson.

This short video was produced by Round 1 Seminar artist Dan Cooper.

Who are the Faculty?

Religious leader and author, Rabbi Sandy Sasso (who has been adjunct faculty at Butler University and Christian Theological Seminary) will direct the seminar. The faculty for Round 1 were Dr. Hilene Flanzbaum, Dr. Elizabeth Mix and Dr. Michael Sells, professors of creative writing, religion, art, music, dance, and theater, respectively, from Butler University and Dr. Frank Burch Brown, theologian on faculty from Christian Theological Seminary. The faculty for Round 2 of the seminars, in the fall 2014, were Dr. Hilene Flanzbaum, Mindy Taylor Ross, and Dr. Michael Sells. Also joining us for the fall seminar were guest faculty; Dr. Brent Hege and Dr. James McGrath. Faculty participants for Round 3 during the spring 2015 semester, were Dr. Michael Sells, Julia Muney Moore, and Shari Wagner. For Round 5, the Fall of 2016, Michael Schelle (Music) joined the faculty participants. For Round 6, Eric Stark (Music) will be joining us the Fall of 2017.

What to Expect:

  • A respectful and stimulating environment that is designed to nurture creativity
  • A world class faculty from Butler and CTS from across the disciplines of religion and the arts
  • A diverse group of students respectful of belief and non-belief

Who is Invited to Apply?

Applications for Round VI will be accepted from April 17 - May 31, 2017.

Applicants may be anyone in the community who is active (as a professional or amateur) in one of the artistic disciplines. Selected applicants must be able to make a commitment to attend all six seminar sessions and engage in open and respectful dialogue. There will be a matriculation fee of $50 at acceptance into the program. Seminar participants will produce creative work to be performed and/or exhibited in a public forum. Seminar participants will receive a $150 stipend at the conclusion of the group exhibition.

When and Where Will We Meet?

Sessions will be held for 2.5 hours weekly for a total of five weeks and will meet evenings from 6:00–8:30 p.m. on the campuses of Butler University and the Christian Theological Seminary.

The Fall 2017 seminars will be held on Thursday evenings, September 28, October 5, 12, 19,  and an open artist session on November 9.

Additional artists sessions will be held from 6:00–8:30 PM on December 7 (Art), January 11 (Literature), February 8 (Music).

The Exhibit and Performance opening will be held on Wednesday, February 28 from 6:00pm - 8:00pm in Shelton Auditorium at Christian Theological Seminary.

Artist applications dates for the Fall 2018 seminar will be announced the summer of 2018.


Session III Spring 2015 seminar dates are Thursdays, February 5, 12, 26, March 5, 19 and 26.

Session III Spring 2015 culminating Exhibition and Program will be on June 3, 2015 at Christian Theological Seminary from 6:00–8:00 p.m.


Session IV Fall 2015 seminar dates are Thursdays, September 24, October 1, 15, 22, November 5 and 19.

Session IV Fall 2015 culminating Exhibition and Program, Wednesday, January 20, 2016 at Christian Theological Seminary from 6:00–8:00 PM.


Session V Fall 2016 seminar dates are Thursdays, September 22, 29, October 6, 13, November 3, December 1, January 12, 2017 and February 2.

Session V Fall 2016 culminating Exhibition and Program, late February 2017 at Christian Theological Seminary.


Session VI Fall 2017 seminar dates are Thursdays, September 28, October 5, 12, 19, November 9, December 7, January 11, 2018 & February 8.

Session VI Fall 2017 culminating Exhibition and Program at Christian Theological Seminary, Wednesday, February 28, 2018.


Session VII Fall 2018 seminar dates will be announced the summer of 2018.

What is Required for Consideration?

  • Fill out the application form (link below for form) and return with your submission
  • Artist Resume
  • 3 examples of your work, no web-site links will be accepted

How to Submit:

  • Please send ALL three completed requirements as attachments (incomplete submissions will not be accepted) by email to: Dr. Sandy Eisenberg Sasso at, subject line: RSA submission Your Name.
  1. Completed Application Form - application period now closed
  2. Artist resume
  3. Three examples of work, no website links please
  • A committee will review all submissions for Round VII and respond with acceptance/non-acceptance
  • Artist notification date is will be announced the summer of 2018
  • For further inquiries, please contact Dr. Sandy Sasso either by email or at 317-789-8853

This project is made possible through the generous support of Lilly Endowment Inc.

See accessibility information or request disability-related accommodations.