During graduate school, I was fortunate enough to attend the Prague Summer Program run by Western Michigan University. The program offers courses in creative writing, literature, and photography, and also includes several lectures and readings by a remarkable collection of faculty. The theme when I attended was "Faith and Art," and my assumption based on this was that the lectures would all come from a religious angle. Some did, but the brilliant writers and artists I encountered interpreted this theme in a much bigger way.
One panel in particular has stuck with me for years.
Rather than focusing on faith AND art, the panelist explored the idea of faith IN art.
The arts are something I have always believed in. Be it literature, dance, music, visual art, or otherwise, art has the power to affect people in profound ways. I truly believe art has the power to change the world.
Wise Words from the Panelists
"The purpose of art is to wake us up to the life we are living." -John Cage
"The arts ask of us some kind of self-sacrifice... art is the thought that we are part of something greater than ourselves." -Alison Hawthorne Deming
"We write in an effort to be obedient to the gift we've been given." -Brett Lott
"Faith is a dynamic process, as is art; when you sit before the blank page, you are praying." -Christopher Merrill
"Art is a yearning for transcendence." -Brett Lott
"We carry things in our heads that cannot be seen and must have faith to bring them to life." -Alison Hawthorne Deming
For all these reasons, I got this.
Duvera is Czech for believe - the closest word to faith in the language. The significance is layered. It is my reminder of that panel, of my belief in the power of art. But it's also a reminder to always and only do what I believe in. This is why I write poetry. And dance. And teach writing. And read. Because these are the things I believe in. These are the things that can change the world.
In a final nod to my time in Prague, the five stars represent the stars of St. Nepomuk, the Czech patron saint of honesty and truth. Isn't that what art is all about? Seeking truth? And in turn, what I hope my life will be: Filled with art. Focused on things I believe in. Seeking truth.
BA in English