Embodied Faith and the Art of Edward Knippers - Gordon Conwell
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Embodied Faith and the Art of Edward Knippers

September 20September 21


The Embodied Faith symposium will gather pastors, artists, educators, art historians, theologians, art appreciators, and others to explore the dynamics of embodiment in the life of faith and in the paintings of Edward Knippers. In addition, the symposium will feature an original dance performance in response to Knippers’ body of work as well as a participatory drum circle. The Knippers exhibit at Gordon-Conwell Seminary in Charlotte will include over two dozen works, including several of his large-scale works that have never been displayed publicly. In keeping with the emphasis on embodiment and the importance of experiencing Knippers’ work in person, there will not be a virtual option for this symposium.

“Disembodiment is not an option for the Christian.” This statement by visual artist Edward Knippers is a guiding principle in his work, which features the human body, often in connection with biblical scenes. Disembodiment is not an option for those who believe that human beings are created in God’s image with beautiful bodies, that everything from sin to salvation are embodied experiences, and that God’s redemption comes through the broken and risen body of Jesus.
The paintings of Edward Knippers invite us to consider the goodness, brokenness, mystery, and glory of embodiment, urging us to grapple with the temptation to avoid, sexualize, downplay, or disparage bodies along with a fully embodied faith.

This theology and arts symposium is sponsored by the Leighton Ford Initiative in Theology, the Arts, and Gospel Witness at Gordon-Conwell Seminary.


Ed Knippers

Edward Knippers is a visual artist who has been a fellow at S. W. Hayter’s Atelier 17 in Paris and was a student in Zao Wou-ki’s painting studio at Oskar Kokoschcka’s School of Vision in Salzburg, Austria. He also was awarded the Prize of Salzburg in printmaking under Otto Eglau. Knippers understood his serious study of the human figure beginning at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and later at the Académie de la Grande Chaumiere in Paris. He holds a Master of fine Arts from the University of Tennessee where he studied under Walter H. Stevens and The Knoxville Seven. His work has been displayed in museums, galleries, and private collections all around the world, and at the center of that work is the human body.

(Image: Catherine Prescott, The Artist, Edward Knippers, Oil on panel, 12 x 9″, 2022, Private Collection)


Steve Prince

Director of Engagement and Distinguished Artist in Residence at the Muscarelle Museum of Art at William and Mary University

A native of New Orleans, Louisiana, and currently resides in Williamsburg, Virginia. He received his BFA from Xavier University of Louisiana and his MFA in Printmaking and Sculpture from Michigan State University. He is the Director of Engagement and Distinguished Artist in Residence at the Muscarelle Museum of Art at William and Mary University. He is an educator with over 25 years of experience teaching middle school, high school, and college throughout his career. He has created several public and private commissions nationally including a 10’ bronze sculpture titled Sankofa Seed at William and Mary University, and a 15’ stainless steel sculpture titled Song for John for the city of Hampton. He has received numerous honors for his art and scholarship including the 2020 International Engage Art Contest Visual Art Grand Prize Winner, the VMFA Artist Fellowship, and the 2010 Teacher of the Year for the City of Hampton. Prince has shown his art internationally in various solo, group, and juried exhibitions.

Natalie Carnes

Professor of Theology and Affiliate Faculty in Women’s and Gender Studies at Baylor University

Natalie Carnes is Professor of Theology and Affiliate Faculty in Women’s and Gender Studies at Baylor University. As a scholar of theology and the arts, constructive theology, and feminist theology, Natalie writes in the conviction that these fields are distinct but not properly separate. She has published three books (Beauty, Image and Presence, and Motherhood) and anticipates her fourth, Attunement: The Art and Politics of Feminist Theology, will be out in fall 2024. She is currently finishing a co-authored book on how Christians justify making and supporting the arts in a world where people die of unmet need and is beginning to think about a project on creativity, spirituality, and the arts.

Bruce Herman

Painter, Writer, and Speaker

Bruce Herman lives with his best friend Meg, married for fifty years. They live in the same house as their daughter Sarah, her husband Peter, and grandson Tristan—along with two dogs, two barn cats, a horse name Willow and assorted wildlife. Herman is a painter, writer, and public speaker who taught studio art for forty years—recently retired from Gordon College, where he continues to curate exhibitions. His art has been shown in more than 150 exhibitions––nationally in a dozen US cities, including New York, Boston, Washington, Chicago, and Los Angeles and internationally in Canada, Italy, England, Japan, Hong Kong, and Israel. His artwork is featured in many public and private art collections including Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; Cincinnati Museum of Fine Arts;  De Cordova Museum, Boston; Cape Ann Museum; the Vatican Museums in Rome; and in many colleges and universities throughout the US and Canada. Bruce’s art is widely published in books, journals, popular magazines, newspapers, and online art features.

David Taylor

Associate Professor of Theology and Culture at Fuller Theological Seminary

W. David O. Taylor is Associate Professor of Theology and Culture at Fuller Theological Seminary and the author of several books, including Prayers for the Pilgrimage(IVP, 2024),A Body of Praise (Baker Academic, 2023), Open and Unafraid (Thomas Nelson/HarperCollins, 2020), and Glimpses of the New Creation (Eerdmans, 2019). He has also written for The Washington Post, Image Journal, Religion News Service, and Christianity Today, among others. An Anglican priest, he has lectured widely on the arts, from Thailand to South Africa. In 2016 he produced a short film on the psalms with Bono and Eugene Peterson. He lives with his family in Austin, Texas, and you can usually find him on Twitter (@wdavidotaylor) or on Instagram (@davidtaylor_theologian).

Rondall Reynoso

Artist and Assistant professor of art and the Art Program Coordinator at Lee University

Rondall Reynoso studied art and art history at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, NY where he received his M.F.A. in painting and a M.S. in art history and is a Ph.D. Candidate in Art & Religion at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, CA. Currently, Reynoso is an assistant professor of art and the art program coordinator at Lee University in Cleveland, TN. His scholarly and artistic life lies at the often uncomfortable intersection of studio practice, art history, philosophy, and religious studies. His art historical and religious studies work has been presented at conferences across North America including The Conference of Faith and History and The American Academy of Religion. Reynoso’s artwork has been exhibited in over ninety solo and group exhibitions across North America. His formal abstraction deals heavily with metaphors, both sociological and spiritual, including the exploration of the boundaries between 2-D and 3-D as a metaphor for the relationship between the corporeal and the spiritual.

Kelly Kapic

Professor of Theological Studies at Covenant College

Kelly M. Kapic is Professor of Theological Studies at Covenant College where he has taught since 2001. With a PhD in Systematic and Historical Theology from King’s College University of London, Kapic has written or edited over fifteen books, with his new book You’re Only Human: How Your Limits Reflect God’s Design and Why that’s Good News (2022) winning a number of awards, including Christianity Today’s Book of the Year award in Theology (Popular). His earlier work includes Embodied Hope: A Theological Meditation on Pain and Suffering and two volumes with the economist Brian Fikkert called Becoming Whole: Why the Opposite of Poverty isn’t the American Dream and A Field Guide to Becoming Whole: Principles for Poverty Alleviation Ministries. In 2014 Kapic received a Templeton Grant to be part of The Center for Christian Thought studying the topic of Psychology and Spiritual Formation. Currently he serves as part of the Core Research Teams for the Templeton funded studies called “Project Amazing Grace” and “Christian Meaning-Making, Suffering and the Flourishing Life.”

Stephen Roach

Stephen Roach is host of the Makers and Mystics Podcast and founder of The Breath and The Clay creative arts organization. He is a published author, keynote speaker and multi-instrumentalist with a background in ethnomusicology and film composition. He has penned five volumes of poetry, a practical guide for artists titled, Five Creativity Killers and How To Avoid Them and his most recent book, Naming The Animals: An Invitation To Creativity published by Square Halo Books. Stephen lives in North Carolina with his wife Sarah and children Evangelyn Belle and Isaac Brighton.

Winfield Bevins

Winfield Bevins is an artist, author, and the executive director of Creo Arts. He is also artist-in-residence at Asbury Theological Seminary and theologian-in-residence for Renaissance Movement in London where he champions the integration of art, theology, and mission. He is the author of several books, including Liturgical Mission and Ever Ancient Ever New.


Sarah Council

Dancer, Choreographer, Teaching Artist, and Director of Sarah Council Dance Projects

Sarah Council is a dancer, choreographer, and teaching artist who specializes in movement integration and facilitation. She is the Director of Sarah Council Dance Projects, a modern contemporary dance company currently located in Charlotte North Carolina. Her work has been presented extensively throughout the New York City and east coast region and was described as “…uncommonly honest and expressive.” by the Washington post. She has received funding from the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities, Queens Council on the Arts, The North Carolina Arts Council and the Arts and Science Council. Sarah is also a certified Gyrotonic and Gyrokinesis instructor.

David Drum

Social Work and Drum Circle Facilitator

David is a social worker who uses drum circle facilitation in his social work practice in North Carolina. David uses an experiential education model that allows participants with a range of experiences from no musical experience to advanced musical skills to come together and create music as a group. Rhythm events are used for community and team building, promoting health and emotional wellbeing, and for groups to express their spirit through the joy of communal music making. Facilitated rhythm events are recreational rhythm activities tailored for specific populations with a specific goal. David augments clinical activities with psycho-educational activities and curriculums. David has facilitated rhythm events for at-risk youths, recovery programs, multiple sclerosis support groups, cancer support groups for survivors and caregivers, corporate retreats, grief groups and worship services.

Olaniyi Zainubu

Change coach, diversity consultant, and drum circle facilitator

Olaniyi has been an integral part of the drumming community since February 2018. After her exposure to the healing aspects of grief through the drum rhythms, she eventually became a co-facilitator along with David Drum. This led to becoming a part of DrumStrong, The Drum Circle Facilitators Guild, and co-facilitating in various other community events and support classes. Participants range from those in grief support, cancer support groups for survivors and caregivers, foster care children and mentors, client celebrations for those re-entering society after incarceration, and cultural events. Olaniyi brings a passion for “Cultivated Communication,” a term she created as a technique to promote the healing in the mind, soul, body, and spirit while participating in a rhythm activity. She agrees with research that proves drumming and other hand instruments not only build physical muscle but also improve social functioning and treat mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety, addictions, aggression, and PTSD symptoms.


Friday, September 20, 2024

6:30–7:30 p.m. Dessert Reception
7:30–7:45 p.m. Welcome
7:45–8:30 p.m. A Hint Half-Guessed: The Incarnate Faith of Edward Knippers – Bruce Herman
8:30–8:45 p.m. Performance by Sarah Council Dance Projects

Saturday, September 21, 2024

9:00–9:45 a.m. The Physicality of the Son of God: Our Discomfort, Our Only Hope 
- Kelly M. Kapic
9:45–10:30 a.m. Embodying the Spiritual: The Incarnational Prayer of Edward Knippers – Rondall Reynoso
10:30–11:00 a.m. Break
11:00–11:45 a.m. Strange Flesh: The Body of the Risen Jesus in the Art of Edward Knippers – David Taylor
11:45–12:00 p.m. Drum Circle – Olaniyi Zainubu and David Drum
12:00–1:15 p.m. Lunch
12:15–1:00 p.m. Lunch Workshop: Cultivating Community for Artists – Winfield Bevins of CREO Arts
1:15–2:00 p.m. The Body of the Magdalene: Natality, Vitality, Desire, and Death – Natalie Carnes
2:00–2:45 p.m. Salt & Light: Art and Faith as a Catalyst for Communal Change – Steve Prince
2:45–3:00 p.m. Break
3:00-3:45 p.m. Makers and Mystics Live: Stephen Roach Interviews Edward Knippers
3:45-4:00 p.m. Conclusion


To inquire about sponsoring this event, please contact Dr. Wes Vander Lugt


This event will be hosted at Gordon-Conwell–Charlotte (see map below).

Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary—Charlotte

14542 Choate Circle Charlotte, NC 28273

Charlotte Campus




If you are traveling from outside of Charlotte, there are many options for accommodations surrounding the campus. We suggest Embassy Suites and Hilton Garden Inn at Ayrsley, or Comfort Inn and TownPlace Suites at I-77 and Carowinds Blvd.

Wes Vander Lugt

Exhibit Organizer and Adjunct
Professor of Theology

Have Questions?

We look forward to seeing you in Charlotte! If you have any questions about the symposium, please feel free to reach out.

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Wes Vanderlugt


Charlotte Campus
14542 Choate Circle
Charlotte, NC 28273 United States
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(704) 527-9909
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