Published on July 27, 2021 by Ashley Smith  
Matter Spirit

The Samford Art Gallery will host a variety of works this fall.  The Clarence Brooks Art and Design Series pays tribute to Brooks who was a Samford alumnus and led the School of the Arts Advisory Board.

The first exhibit is Matter+ Spirit Sept. 1-Oct. 7 with a virtual artist discussion at 5 p.m. on September 2. The show is a collaborative effort between Chinese and American artists.  Matter + Spirit explores the question “What is the place of the spiritual in contemporary life, particularly in highly materialistic—and increasingly secular—cultures, like the United States and China?”

It is the product of a gathering of North American art professors that included Samford professor Scott Fisk, with their Chinese counterparts in June 2018 in China sponsored by the Nagel Institute for the Study of World Christianity. Visiting artists’ enclaves and cultural sites in Beijing, Nanjing, and Shanghai, they considered issues of art, contemporary society, spirituality, and their role as culture makers, critics, and seers. The works you see in this exhibition represent this encounter, its conversations, and what was summoned by the artists’ interactions—with China, with the arts scene there, and with each other. Matter + Spirit presents a remarkable body of art that reflects on the perennial tensions between the material and the spiritual in human life and in society. The full traveling show includes 55 works. Samford’s team of curators Scott Fisk, Natalie Harrison and Lauren Evans selected a sampling of the pieces that show the wide variety of techniques and mediums used by the various artists. 

The Nagel Institute observed, “One of the liveliest arenas for cultural change in China has been in the arts. In the late 1970s there was no Chinese art scene to speak of. As late as 1990 there were no private art galleries in Beijing. By 2008, however, there were 300 galleries in the capital, and museums and art academies were running trendy biennial exhibitions.”

“It was an amazingly rewarding seminar in many ways. It was an honor to get to know the American and Chinese artists in the group,” Fisk said. “We talked extensively about art, culture, religion, and Christianity. The trip helped inspire me to make new work and I was excited to contribute to this exhibit.” Fisk served as the official photographer for the trip and created an abstract photo collage book to be part of the resulting exhibition.

Fisk is a multidisciplinary graphic designer, artist, educator. His work has been in peer reviewed shows around the world and received dozens of prestigious awards of excellence. Fisk previously served as an Army Reserve Photo-Journalist in Iraq often embedding during combat operations.

This is the third in a series of international art projects hosted by this partnership. The first event took place in Indonesia in 2008 and the second event was in South Africa in 2013. South Africa’s seminar included two Samford artists—Larry Thompson and Joe Cory—and the resulting exhibitionBetween the Shadow and the Light, also visited Samford. According to Fisk, “After learning about my fellow faculty’s experience, I was inspired to pursue this opportunity.”

The Art Gallery will also feature the work of guest artist Tad Gloecker Oct. 19-Nov. 19, graphic design students Dec. 13-18, Samford Art & Design Faculty Jan. 13-Feb.3, guest artist Jamaal Barber Feb. 8-March 3, Annual Juried Show March 22-April 7 and the studio art senior exhibition April 14-30.  The Art Gallery is open 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Friday and will follow Samford's COVID safety protocols. For more information visit samford.edu/arts/art-gallery.