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Exhibit Sets the Table for a Spiritual Feast

12/04/14
Exhibit 1
One of the items on display at "Come to the Table" exhibit in the Theology and Ministry Library on Brighton Campus. (Photo by Lee Pellegrini)

By Rosanne Pellegrini | Chronicle Staff

Published: Dec. 4, 2014

The biblical metaphor of “the table,” a theme especially resonant during the holiday season, is the focus of an evocative art exhibition on display in the Boston College Theology and Ministry Library (TML) on Brighton Campus.   

A national traveling exhibit, “Come to the Table” features 35 works in a variety of media, including historical pieces by artists Albrecht Dürer and modernist work by Jasper Johns and Sadao Watanabe. It also comprises contemporary pieces created by member artists of Christians in the Visual Arts, the organization that organized, co-curated and circulates the exhibit.

Collectively, according to the exhibition statement, the works celebrate “the Table: a place of invitation, relationship, abundance, generosity, and reconciliation, where communities gather and where worshippers encounter the grace of God.”
Co-sponsored by the School of Theology and Ministry and University Libraries, “Come to the Table” is on display in TML’s Atrium Gallery, located on its lower level.  

“This is very important exhibit for us,” said STM Dean Mark Massa, SJ. It “illustrates the deep and rich understandings of the Eucharist – the ‘Lord’s Supper’ to our Protestant brethren – through the centuries,” and offers a place for community members “to take a break from their studies in the TML and ‘soak in’ the beautiful art work.”

Fr. Massa added that “Come to the Table” enables STM “to invite other schools within the Boston Theological Institute to campus to enter into conversation about the exhibit: what it manifests; what it hides; what we share in common in our understanding of the Eucharist, and what divides us.”

University Librarian Thomas Wall praised Fr. Massa – “a great partner and great collaborator” – for his part in helping transform the Atrium Gallery into a suitable venue for exhibits and other special events.

“Our role is really that of facilitator,” he added, with a goal of working “with all the schools and the deans as appropriate.”
 Speaking at the opening last month, STM Professor John Baldovin, SJ, described the exhibit as “welcoming all sorts of representations of the Eucharist as well as its clear relation to real life in the images that depict our ordinary tables.

 “Despite our differences, many traditions contribute to our recognition of this table ritual as central to our Christian lives: the artistic beauty of the Orthodox, the hymns of the Methodists, the spirit-infused enthusiasm of the Evangelicals, the theological rigor of the Lutherans, the reverence of the Catholics, the elegant language of the Anglicans, the simplicity of the Congregationalists and the Presbyterians, not to mention the rich gifts brought to the table by so many diverse cultures – the bodily engagement of Africans to name only one,” he added.

 At the opening, and since, the exhibit has been received with enthusiasm, according to TML Head Librarian Esther Griswold. Visitors have offered “congratulations on, and appreciation for, a beautiful and powerfully moving exhibit,” she said. Guestbook comments have included “A very beautiful and spiritually refreshing show” and “A feast for the eyes and soul.”
 
In addition to providing library services, Griswold noted, hosting exhibits consistent with the mission and aspirations of STM illustrates TML’s participation in the life of the STM community as a source of intellectual and spiritual exploration, contemplation and enrichment.

 “The exhibit not only resonates with spiritual life and practice at STM but also connects to the study of liturgy in the curriculum through which our students learn to understand the rich traditions of Eucharist and Table Fellowship among the Christian denominations,” said Griswold. It “offers the opportunity for the art to reflect the community in its many facets and for the community to in turn reflect on the art.”

“Come to the Table,” free and open to the public, is on display through Jan. 4 during TML hours – see www.bc.edu/libraries/about/hours for details.