The Powell - Edwards Lecture Series For Religion and the Arts
The mission of the Powell-Edwards Lecture Series for Religion and the Arts is to foster serious inquiry into the relation of the world's diverse religions and spiritualities to the arts. To that end, the Powell-Edwards Lecture Series plans, supports, and presents distinguished lectures in religion and the arts, and disseminates these conversations to the widest possible community. The Powell-Edwards Lecture Series hopes that this inquiry will further encourage religions and spiritualities, and the arts, to enrich and critique one another so that both society and the creative life of individuals will flourish.
Generous gifts established The Powell-Edwards Lecture Series in Religion and the Arts within the Religious Studies Program at Virginia Commonwealth Univeristy in 2008.
Past Annual Powell-Edwards Lectures:
2014: Vera Kononova Brown - "Revealing the Unseen: Looking Beyond the Surface of Eastern Orthodox Icons"
2013: Professor Jonathan Waybright - "V is for Votive? The Early History of the Alphabet"
2012: Dr. Cliff Edwards - "Van Gogh's Ghost Paintings"
2011: Catherine Kapikan - "Ketchup, Karate Studio or Fitness Center"
2010: Dr. Naresh Bajracharya - "Vivifying the Sacred: Art and Consecration Rituals in Buddhism"
2009: Professor Elizabeth King - "The Coexistence of Substance and Spirit"
Professor Omid Safi - "Islam and Redeeming the Soul of America" (October 10, 2013)
Dr. Daniel Perdue - "Only From the Mind of the Buddha: The Wheel of Life Image" (September 19, 2013)
Professor Vrashabh Prasad Jain - "Mantra in Indian Religions" (September 19, 2013)
Marcia Powell: A Brief Biography
Marcia Powell was a graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University, and a renowned French teacher at the Collegiate Schools for more than 20 years. Her dedication to Virginia Commonwealth University led her to teach there in her retirement. Well into her 80’s she continued to teach French to senior citizens at the Shepherd’s Center and Open University of Richmond, Virginia. She touched many lives with her love of learning, culture, the arts, and the French language. She led tours to France and Switzerland for a number of years, enjoying her own return trips to Switzerland where she had studied during her youth. For the last 13 years of her life she was a charter member of the Hermitage at Cedarfield. Her apartment there contained many works of art, including a portrait of her father, and her collection of books on the arts, literature, and biblical studies. Among her books were many volumes in French literature, including the works of her favorite French author, Marcel Proust, and the signed works of the “Lost Generation” writer, her friend “Dos,” John dos Passos.
In her 90’s, to express her love of Virginia Commonwealth University and deep interest in the relationship of religion and the arts, Mrs. Powell decided to establish an endowment at Virginia Commonwealth University to support lectures and events on religion and the arts. As she had attended the classes in religion taught by Dr. Cliff Edwards, and had herself delivered lectures in those classes on French art dealing with biblical subjects, she asked that the endowment be placed in the Religious Studies Program and be named the Powell-Edwards Fund for Religion and the Arts. Mrs. Powell lived to attend the inaugural lecture by the famous sculptor, Elizabeth King, at Virginia Commonwealth University and enjoyed the celebration of the beginning of the Powell-Edwards lectures.
Cliff Edwards: A Brief Biography
Cliff Edwards is Professor of Religious Studies in the School of World Studies of the College of Humanities and Sciences of Virginia Commonwealth University. His undergraduate degree is from Drew University, Masters in Theology from Garrett Theological Seminary, and Ph.D. in the History and Literature of Religions from Northwestern University. Professor Edwards studied as a Dempster Fellow at the University of Strasbourg in France, and the University of Neuchatel in Switzerland. He participated in archaeological excavations at Gezer in Palestine and studied at the Hebrew Union School of Bible and Archaeology in Jerusalem. He has been a visiting professor at the University of California at Santa Barbara and has been a Visiting Fellow at Oxford University in England. Through a “Great Religions Fund” fellowship he spent a year at the Daitokuji Zen Temple in Kyoto, Japan, under the direction of Zen Master Kobori Sohaku and Kyudo master hiraki-sensei. Currently he teaches courses in Japanese Zen Buddhism, Biblical Studies, and Religion and the Arts at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, VA.
He is the author of several books on a variety of subjects, including Christian Being and Doing (Abingdon Press, 1965), Everything Under Heaven (Mercer University Press, 1979), and Issa: The Story of a Poet-Priest (Macmillan Ltd., 1985) In the field of religion and the arts he has authored four books on the religious quest of Vincent van Gogh, including Van Gogh and God (Loyola Univ. Press, 1989), The Shoes of Van Gogh (Crossroad Publishing, 2004) and its Korean translation (Solbook, 2005), and Mystery of the Night Café (SUNY Press, 2009). He has published several book chapters in religion and the arts, numerous articles on religion in a variety of journals, and thirty articles on Buddhism in the Abingdon Dictionary of Living Religions (1981). Currently Dr. Edwards is preparing a work titled Van Gogh’s Mystery Paintings and a book on the haiku titled The Haiku Way to Enlightenment. He continues his years of service on the editorial board of Menorah Review, and regularly provides book reviews for that journal.