BMCM+AC and UNC Asheville will host conversations and interviews with a diverse group of artists, curators, faith leaders, and scholars to explore the role of arts in spiritual practice and religious life and the role of spiritual practice and religious life in the arts.
Through the Faith in Arts conversations, we are collecting and building a library of stories and perspectives from our local (Asheville/WNC) and international community which illuminate the myriad dimensions of the complex topic of faith in arts from a multiplicity of viewpoints.
Presented as part of the forthcoming Faith in Arts Institute, in partnership with UNC Asheville.
Conversations air at 1 PM Eastern:
André Daughtry is a Brooklyn-based interdisciplinary photography and media artist, writer, and performer born in Queens, NY. André’s work as a “speculative social documentarian” explores contemporary expressions/experiences of the spiritual, mystical, and theological in the contexts of pluralistic democracies. Since 2016, Daughtry has served as Community Minister of the Arts at Judson Memorial Church.
Molly Silverstein is a poet, graduate student, and former BMCM+AC staff member. She currently studies at Harvard Divinity School, where her work focuses on spiritual care and counseling and the psychology of religion. Her writing has been previously published in Clerestory Magazine, Maudlin House, Sheila Na Gig, and Five 2 One Magazine, and she has performed with the Juniper Bends reading series based in Asheville, NC.
Zoketsu Norman Fischer is an American poet, writer, and Soto Zen priest, teaching and practicing in the lineage of Shunryu Suzuki. He is a Dharma heir of Sojun Mel Weitsman, from whom he received Dharma transmission in 1988.
Krisha Marcano was a member of the Martha Graham Dance Company from 1995-1997 and performed with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater from 1997-1999. From 2005-2008 she starred in the first principal role as Squeak in the original production of “The Color Purple.” She has taught dance and performance for numerous institutions and is now professor of Musical Theater and Dance, Assistant Dean of Student Affairs and Entrepreneurship at UNC School of the Arts.
Marie Cochran is an American installation artist, educator, curator, and art writer. She was born and raised in Toccoa, Georgia. Her work centers on issues of race and gender from an African-American perspective and explores the dynamics of Affrilachia. She is the founding curator for the Affrilachian Artist Project, an organization that promotes the concept of Affrilachia, and works with artists of color in Appalachia. During the 2020-21 academic year, she was the Lehman Brady Professor at the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University.
Richard Chess is an American poet and co-director of the Faith in Arts Institute. He spent most of his childhood and youth in Cherry Hill, New Jersey. He is the author of four books of poetry, “Love Nailed to the Doorpost”, “Third Temple,” “Chair in the Desert,” and “Tekiah.” He is professor of literature and language at the University of North Carolina at Asheville. He directs UNCA’s Center for Jewish Studies as well as UNCA’s Creative Writing Program. He has been a member of the low-residency MFA faculties at Warren Wilson College and Queens College. He served for a number of years as writer-in-residence at the Brandeis Bardin Institute in Simi Valley, California. He has also served as assistant director of The Jewish Arts Institute at Elat Chayyim, located at the Isabella Freedman Retreat Center. He also served for two years at poetry editor of Zeek: A Jewish Journal of Thought and Culture. He is one of the leaders of UNC Asheville’s contemplative inquiry initiative. Among other accomplishments of that initiative, is the annual Creating a Mindful Campus retreat/conference. He has been active in a variety of ways with the Center for Contemplative Mind and its Association for Contemplative Mind in Higher Education.
Charles Hallisey joined the Faculty of Divinity at Harvard University in 2007–08. His research centers on Theravada Buddhism in Sri Lanka and Southeast Asia, Pali language and literature, Buddhist ethics, and literature in Buddhist culture. His most recent book is Therigatha: Poems of the First Buddhist Women (Harvard University Press, 2015). He is currently working on a book project entitled “Flowers on the Tree of Poetry: The Moral Economy of Literature in Buddhist Sri Lanka.”
Christopher-Rasheem McMillan, is a performance-related artist and scholar. He has a joint appointment between Dance and Gender, Women’s & Sexuality Studies at the University of Iowa. McMillan received his BA from Hampshire College, his MFA in Experimental Choreography from the Laban Conservatoire, London, and his PhD in Theology and Religious Studies from King’s College, London (2017). His interests concern choreography in an expanded field, something that he has approached through experimental practices and creative processes in multiplicity of formats and expressions. He uses video, performance, photography and oral storytelling to explore themes of race, memory, queer desire, religion, personal and public mythology.
Aviya Kushner grew up in a Hebrew-speaking home in New York. She is the author of The Grammar of God: A Journey into the Words and Worlds of the Bible (Spiegel & Grau / Penguin Random House), which was a National Jewish Book Award Finalist, a Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature Finalist, and one of Publishers Weekly‘s Top 10 Religion Stories of the year, as well as the poetry chapbook Eve and All the Wrong Men (Dancing Girl Press, 2019). Kushner is The Forward‘s language columnist, and previously wrote a travel column for The International Jerusalem Post. She is an associate professor at Columbia College Chicago, a founding faculty member at the Randolph College MFA program, and a member of The Third Coast Translators Collective. Her work has been supported by the Howard Foundation, the Illinois Arts Council, and the Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture.