The event featured the dedication of the Fred and May Reisz Art Gallery as well as two performances of Witnesses, a dramatic Gospel interpretation by Reverend Jonathan Swenson.
The Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary (LTSS) invitecampusand community members to attend its Art for Faith's Sake Celebration, held on Thursday, March 3. The event featured the dedication of the Fred and May Reisz Art Gallery as well as two performances of Witnesses, a dramatic Gospel interpretation by Reverend Jonathan Swenson. The event emphasizes the important role art plays in faith and its ability to express sentiments and share the stories of the Gospel, beyond what words alone can do."Art is critical for human life and human flourishing," said Dr. Clay Schmit, Provost of the LTSS. "We create art - those who can - to find peace, seek answers, explore ideas, and share deep ideas and thoughts. And those who do not create can perceive the gifts of the artists and receive insights into new ideas, perspectives, ways of knowing, angles of vision, and understandings, because everyone has the gift of resonance."The Art for Faith's Sake celebration will begin at the 11:30 a.m. Chapel service with an expression of art through theater. Rev. Swenson, a trained actor, ordained ELCA pastor and founding director of the Paraphase Theater, will share his one-man, multiple character performance of Witnesses. Written by Curt Cloninger, Witnesses is an innovative and inspiring re-telling of the Gospel, featuring eight different characters - all portrayed by Swenson - and their personal encounters with Jesus. Through these eye-witness accounts, both comedic and serious, the audience is encouraged to see Jesus from fresh perspectives; not as someone who was distant, but as one who was intimately involved in the trials of daily life. A stingy innkeeper with a Bronx accent, an Italian Lazarus who likes pasta, and a joyful Simon Peter on Easter Morning are just a few of the characters Swenson brings to life through the presentation.Following the performance, guests are invited to attend a noon luncheon and presentation by the Reverend Dr. Fred Reisz. Dr. Reisz, who served as president of the LTSS from 1992 to 2006, will speak on the topic of "Iconography of the Crucifixion."The LTSS art gallery is being dedicated in honor of Dr. Reisz and his wife, May, later in the evening at 7:15 p.m., preceded by a wine and cheese reception at 6:30 p.m. in the Alumni Hall. During their years at the seminary, May turned the garage of the president's residence into an art studio. As a recognized artist specializing in painting, she wanted a space to pursue her passion for art. That space will now serves as an art gallery for all members of the seminary and the community to enjoy. In their retirement, May continues to create art and Rev. Reisz, who has maintained an academic interest in art and faith, continues to teach on the subject. The celebration event will conclude with a second performance of Witnesses by Rev. Swenson, immediately following the art gallery dedication.Swenson is a graduate of Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, Minnesota where he received his B.A. in Psychology and Theater and Music. He is also a graduate of Luther Seminary in St. Paul, MN where he received his Master of Divinity. Swenson has served as an ordained minister for over 15 years, and is currently the Director of Programming for Mount Carmel Ministries in Alexandria, MN as well as Founding Director of Paraphrase Theater. Through the Theatre, Swenson travels throughout the country sharing a unique blend of drama, teaching, music, and story-telling. More information about the performance can be found at www.paraphrasetheatre.com.