From Thursday to Sunday at VCU’s School of World Studies, the Marcia Powell Festival of Religion and the Arts will bring artists, scholars and other interested participants together to discuss religion, spirituality and art. Topics to be explored include Zen Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism, Christianity and Islam.
“We received a generous donation in order to host this event,” says Bethanie Constant, director of development at VCU’s College of Humanities and Sciences. “VCU will have a Powell-Edwards Distinguished Professorship in Religion and the Arts coming soon, and this event is sort of the beginning to that excitement.”
The Festival of Religion and the Arts is named in memory of Marcia Horner Powell, a 1979 VCU graduate who taught French at Collegiate School for more than two decades and later served as an adjunct faculty member at her alma mater. While teaching at Collegiate, she took classes with religious studies professor Clifford Edwards, and he in turn invited her to lecture about connections between the arts and biblical studies.
Toward the end of her life, Powell asked that her family and friends establish an endowed lecture series to focus on their common interests in religion and the arts. In 2008, the Powell-Edwards Lectureship in Religion and the Arts was founded.
U.S. Poet Laureate Charles Wright will open the festival on Thursday (April 9) from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. with a reading of his poems (registration is required). Wright’s Black Zodiac collection won a Pulitzer Prize in 1998, and he received the National Book Award in 1983 for Country Music: Selected Early Poems.
The schedule includes panel discussions on topics such as “Art, Religion, Sex and the Body,” interactive workshops including “Storytelling with Gestures” and a Sunday brunch talk by Richmond artist Ed Trask, who will also lead a bus tour of the city’s mural art. For a full schedule of events, go to rampages.us/mpfestival.