Asbury Art History Expert Poses Questions of Justice at Paris Conference – Asbury University
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October 27, 2022

Art is more than meets the eye. Exploring the historical framework alongside each piece and movement remains paramount.

“Many contemporary artists regard their work as having a moral as well as aesthetic function,” Asbury art history and history professor Dr. Linda Stratford said. “By conceiving the artist as a visual truth-teller who exposes social and spiritual injustice, artists envision a more perfect world.”

This summer in Paris, France, Stratford co-organized with Dr. James Romaine an international art conference entitled, The Artist as Truth-Teller and the Legacy of French Artist Georges Rouault. The Association of Scholars of Christianity in the History of Art (ASCHA) and Institut Catholique de Paris hosted this symposium, honoring the 150th anniversary of French modernist Georges Rouault.

“The research questions that I ask involve the ways in which inclusion and exclusion have influenced the reception of art movements,” Stratford said. “I’ve long had a passion for interdisciplinary studies. In art history, we have to look at the entire story and context surrounding art movements.”

As a co-founder of ASCHA with Romaine (professor of art at Lander University), Stratford spearheaded the conference, by highlighting the work of post-1945 to contemporary artists whose work may be understood through the lens of a Judeo-Christian model of prophetic social and spiritual action. The symposium featured speakers and artists from Sorbonne-Université, Université de Strasbourg, University of Granada, the Foundation for Spirituality and the Arts, and Fuller Theological Seminary.

Stratford emphasized the biblical facet of artists. “This prophetic role for the artist can be rooted, in part, in figures of Judeo-Christian prophets, from Abraham to Moses to Isaiah to John the Baptist. These prophets model a non-cynical intersection of spiritual purpose and material action that continues to inspire artists to work both within and beyond the studio/gallery/museum with a belief that art can call a reimagined reality into being.”

Stratford serves as director for the Paris Semester, an immersive study abroad experience in which students receive full-semester credit, complete internships, and visit significant historic and cultural sites. Provided at the same tuition, room and board rate as a typical semester on Asbury’s campus, this opportunity is available to Asbury and non-Asbury students with prior French language experience not required. More information about the Paris Semester can be found here: https://www.asbury.edu/academics/global-initiatives-programs/paris/.

The Asbury University Art & Design Department offers three majors (Art & Design, Art Grades P-12, and Pre-Art Therapy) and four minors (Art & Design, Art History, Graphic Design, and Photography & Digital Imaging). Dr. Stratford is happy to meet with students during campus visits: https://www.asbury.edu/admissions-aid/visit/.