The annual Winifred E. Weter Faculty Award Lecture for Meritorious Scholarship provides a public platform in which the claims of the liberal arts in the Christian university are espoused. Delivered each year by a SPU faculty member selected by the Faculty Status Committee, the Weter Lecture honors Winifred E. Weter, SPU professor emerita of classics. Her teaching career spanning 40 years (1935-75) exemplifies a life of Christian character and integrity. Her love for the study of classical languages and literature inspired a similar enthusiasm in thousands of her students, and this lecture continues that tradition of inspiration.
2020 Weter Lecture
Priceless: Art and Luxury in a Low-Res World
Dr. Katie Kresser
Due to COVID-19, this event (originally scheduled for April 2020) has been postponed until Spring 2021. Dr. Kresser's lecture will instead be delivered online; the recording will be available on April 13, 2021.
In 2017, a painting by Leonardo da Vinci sold for 450 million dollars. Meanwhile the world's top art museums swarm with starry-eyed tourists (the Louvre saw 10 million last year), and famous artists are revered as gurus. So why all the hype? What's the big deal?
In Priceless, SPU Art History Professor Katie Kresser will examine the mystique of fine art in our postmodern world. She will argue that fine art began as a deeply spiritual and distinctively Christian phenomenon. And she will show that its glamour today is rooted in traces of Christian mystery that have survived since ancient times. In the process, she will recover the original view of art as a spiritual technology meant to draw the soul toward the good and true.
Art is especially important for us in this early twenty-first century moment. That's because we live in an increasingly shallow, low-res world. And amazingly, in their own way, the first fine artists lived in a shallow, low-res culture too. Their visual environment (like ours) was all about sensory escape into fantasy. Meanwhile their most precious objects (their cult statues, or idols) promised to package transcendence in a box. That's why the early Christians had to invent art: to dig deep, aim high, and push back against demands for easy answers, instant gratification, and gods that were less than divine.
Sure, today's art world has been corrupted by elitism and greed. Sure, it's hard to cope with 450-million-dollar price tags and pretentious art stars. But that doesn't have to spoil fine art for the rest of us. The art world today has almost forgotten what art was supposed to be about, but we can use our imaginations to reclaim the truth. Together we can rediscover the purpose of art: to bring reality (earthly and divine) into high-res focus like nothing else can do.
To listen to past Weter Lectures, visit SPU Digital Commons here.