On Jan. 28, Duke Initiatives in Theology and the Arts (DITA)  will unveil its most recent project, a thirteen-day art exhibition and multimedia exploration of T. S. Eliot’s spiritual and literary masterwork, Four Quartets. Through music, painting, poetry, informal conversation, and academic discussion, the project will explore issues vital to the heart of this poetry: space and time, language and silence, faith and modernity, and that divine engagement with the world that stretches, breaks, and heals all the bonds of our imaginations.
“Engaging Eliot” begins on Monday, January 28, with an opening night of performance, readings, and lectures in Duke Chapel, featuring renowned visual artists Bruce Herman and Makoto Fujimura, world-class composer Christopher Theofanidis, Duke’s Ciompi Quartet, and Duke Divinity Dean Richard Hays, with professors Jeremy Begbie and Ellen Davis.
In the presence of sixteen paintings by Herman and Fujimura displayed in the chapel transepts and inspired by Four Quartets, a performance of a compelling new piece by Theofanidis will be performed, a piano quintet entitled “At the Still Point.” Together these works comprise QU4RTETS—the name the artists have given to their energetic and deeply felt collaboration. All three artists will discuss and present their work to the audience, bookended by selections from Four Quartets themselves.
On the afternoon of Jan. 29, the Divinity School student community is invited to join Herman and Fujimura for a more intimate discussion of Eliot, the project, and the broader issues of art, art-making, and faith. That same evening, DITA and the Divinity School will be hosting an academic colloquium, featuring guests Associate Professor Gennifer Weisenfeld, from the Art, Art History, and Visual Studies Department at Duke, and Associate Professor Michael Moses, from Duke’s English Department. Along with Dean Hays, Moses and Weisenfeld will take up Eliot’s poem from an interdisciplinary perspective, approaching it in the light of their own research specialties, which include twentieth-century studies, English literature, economics, politics, and the effects of war on visual culture.
The paintings will remain in Duke Chapel for public viewing through Feb. 9.
Though registration is strongly encouraged, all events are free of charge.