CSC Events

Center using art for justice education

By: Michael Hebbeler

May 4, 2017

May 1st marked the 84th anniversary of the Catholic Worker newspaper, launched in New York City in the throes of the Great Depression. The paper featured articles that aimed, according to co-founder Dorothy Day, “to popularize and make known the encyclicals of the Popes in regard to social justice and the program put forth by the Church for the ‘reconstruction of the social order.’” Day​ believed art played an essential role in giving witness to injustice and imagining a new order, so the paper frequently featured art images in its pages​. The Quaker wood engraver, Fritz Eichenberg contributed illustrations to the paper for 40 years. “I felt honored that Dorothy Day wanted my work on the pages of The Catholic Worker,” reflects Eichenberg, "​a true witness that Art and Faith can go together.”

Th​e​ pairing of art and faith to animate the work of justice is taking root at the Center for Social Concerns. Not only do paintings and prints from studio art students line the walls of Geddes Hall, but a growing number of opportunities for creative expression are being offered through the Center’s courses and programs. Pedagogically, art provides a medium through which students can process their service-learning experiences beyond the verbal or analytical. Furthermore, encounters with people on the margins are fundamentally incarnate experiences, and art channels ideas into concrete images. 

This semester, the Center for Social Concerns launched Indivisible: Liberty and Justice for All, a juried art exhibit for undergraduates exploring social issues through painting, drawing, printmaking, photography, sculpture, ceramic, mixed media, and design.  Specifically, students were asked to create pieces that reflected Pope Paul VI’s vision of a "community where all can live truly human lives, free from discrimination on account of race, religion or nationality, free from servitude to others or to natural forces." This vision is articulated in Populorum Progressio, the social encyclical framing this year’s Center theme, Solidarity: Soul of Development. 

In collaboration with the Department of Art, Art History and Design, the open call elicited nearly 60 submissions. 34 pieces were selected by Segura Arts Studio, including award winners, and the Snite Museum of Art hosted a one-night exhibit featuring these works. Whether capturing a current injustice or portraying a new vision of solidarity, this artwork explored immigration, race, gender, religion, the environment, incarceration,​ and other contemporary realities in which human dignity is threatened or enhanced. 150 visitors filled the Snite for an evening reception and exhibit on Thursday, April 27th. Co-sponsors included the Department of Art, Art History and Design, Office of the Provost, Segura Art Studio, and the ​Snite Museum of Art.

Art work featured in Indivisible: Liberty and Justice for All is now on display on the first and second floors of Geddes Hall. 

Contact: Michael Hebbeler, hebbeler.2@nd.edu