Arts At HDS

By Atéha Bailly MDiv ’23

Participants help Ven. Losang Samten sweep away his Wheel of Life Mandala at the Center for the Study of World Religions Common Room at Harvard University. Photo Courtesy of Kris Snibbe

For many HDS students, art is a prominent feature of their exploration of the study of religion and ministry. Whether it’s catching a lecture by a favorite artist, performing for fellow HDS community members, or keeping up with the latest from HDS’s literary publications, there are opportunities to weave creativity into the Divinity School experience at every corner. 

HDS has a literary and art journal called Peripheries. The journal is published by the Center for the Study of World Religions (CSWR) and features poetry, visual art, and much more. Peripheries intermingles the work of both aspiring and established artists—so, if you want to submit a piece you’ve been working on or just appreciate the talent the CSWR curates, Peripheries is a great place to go. Also, keep an eye on the events at the CSWR as they occasionally host lectures from visiting writers and artists. 

In addition, the Harvard Divinity Bulletin publishes articles on a wide range of topics concerning religion in the contemporary world, including art. Each issue also includes a “Poetry” section where you’ll find the work of two featured poets. 

HDS’s Wednesday Noon Service is another way to appreciate the talent and creativity of the HDS community. This weekly service offers a space for prayer and worship that is inclusive of the many faiths represented at Harvard Divinity School. Each week, a small group of vocalists and instrumentalists from the HDS community perform a musical offering at the service. The HDS Choir, which is open to all students, faculty, and staff, also occasionally performs. 

If you want to find ways to bring art into the classroom, there are opportunities for that, as well. Each semester, there are courses offered that investigate the intersection of religion and art, whether that be visual art, poetry, or music. Additionally, some HDS professors encourage their students to present their takeaways from class in creative ways that go beyond traditional essay assignments—I have seen final projects incorporate songs, poems, and painting in my classes. 

If you are an artist interested in religious and/or ministry studies, you aren’t alone! At HDS, you’ll find community and resources to explore the multifaceted relationship between art and faith.  

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