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Ordinary Saints: Bruce Herman on the Dangerous Space Between Icon and Portrait (The Art of Paradox P

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Detailed texture from Bruce Herman's Painting Planetary Nimbus V

“Essentially poetry, art, and music break open the world again for us

that had gotten closed by our false certainties.” - Bruce Herman

In the last Betwixt Episode, Artist Bruce Herman told the story about the house-fire in which he lost 25 years of artwork. Bruce described it as a “eu-catastrophe” - the good catastrophe that brought freedom amidst great loss.

In Part 2 of this robust conversation with Bruce Herman, I wanted to learn more about his work as an artist. What are the new possibilities and narratives Bruce has been exploring? What role does art play in the life of the Church?

Bruce Herman's latest project Ordinary Saints explores the fraught space between the icon and the portrait. A space Bruce has described as “entering into no-man’s land, between the sacred traditions on the one hand and the traditions of portraiture, and of art-song and poetry.”

“Playing God is the great temptation for all of us–especially artists. . .

My imagination had been colonized by my desire for reputation.”

Bruce Herman

Bruce Herman is an artist, essayist, speaker, professor. He is the Lothlórien Distinguished Chair in Fine Arts at Gordon College where he founded the Art Department 35 years ago. Herman’s art has been exhibited around the world. His paintings have been housed in world renown museums like the Vatican Museum of Modern Religious Art and the Cincinnati Museum of Fine Arts.

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Thank you to these artists for the use of their audio:
  • Stories About the World that Once Was. Performed by Chris Zabriskie CC license

  • Aspirato performed by Kai Engel: CC license

  • “Your Poetry is Jamming My Machine” by Malcolm Guite. Performed with Steve Bell. (Used with Permission)

  • Turn Not Thy Face Away from Thy Servant by Russian Liturgical Chant CC license

  • Summoning Beauty Music by JAC Redford for Ordinary Saints. (Used with Permission)

  • Portrait of the Artist. Poetry by Malcolm Guite, music by JAC Redford for Ordinary Saints. Performed live at Laity Lodge. (Used with Permission)


If you enjoyed this episode, you might like:

Episode 20: Bruce Herman on How to Dance When Everything is Burning (Art of Paradox Part 1)

Episode 14:Suzanne Stabile on How the Enneagram Helps the Church Understand Difference (Part 1)


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