Today’s post is written by library student ambassador Darwin Chavez. Darwin is a junior Communications Studies major at LMU.
The William H. Hannon Library was proud to host Cecilia González-Andrieu and her students as they presented their artwork to a large crowd of guests on February 8, 2018 in the Von der Ahe Family Suite. After the presentation on the class and its significance by the professor and her students, the audience was invited to view the art that the students had created. Many of the people in attendance were parents of the student-artists who were attending to see their children’s work during Family Weekend. The crowd also included some of LMU’s faculty in the theology department who helped put the event together, and a few LMU students who came to support their fellow peers.
The artwork stemmed from the class that the González-Andrieu has taught for the past ten years with the goal of encouraging students to interact with theological inquiries on a deeper level. The artistic aesthetics are meant to embody the Catholic themes found in the communities and texts the students interacted with in class. As explained by the students themselves, the artwork had three functions. The first was to pass on the traditions and honor those who came before us. The second was to wrestle with these traditions as they delved further into their history, and the third was to evoke experiences of wonder and transcendence.
At the center of all of this is the search for truth. The class challenges the students to question faith claims, doctrines about Christ, and fight controversies in the scriptures through their artwork. By doing this, the students have to open themselves and become vulnerable which invites them to explore their own identity. Many of the pieces reflected subjects that were personal to artists’ and dealt with the questions they confronted in class. To give a couple of examples, the representation of women and minorities in Christian tradition was highlighted as one artist painted a group of faceless women of color to honor the women in her life. Another student crafted an image of impaled hands in chains that showed the significance of Christ’s love but also his suffering and the suffering of the oppressed that still plagues society today. This is just a small sample of the fascinating work done by the students, many of whom were able to simultaneously express aesthetic theology and their identity through art.
As educational as this was for the students, it was equally eye-opening for those in attendance. Some in the audience noted being highly impressed with the level of detail displayed and the passion behind the art. For many of the parents, they saw a new side of their children that could only be revealed through their artwork. Overall, the format offered a space that gave a glimpse into the theological lessons Cecelia González-Andrieu prompted and the students’ response to these challenges.
Thank you, Darwin, for sharing your experience and reflections with us!