King's MCA program takes exciting new steps


New York, NEW YORK-- On Saturday, Oct. 11, CIVA (Christians in the Visual Arts) hosted an all-day symposium at The King’s College titled, “How Art Works." This event represents one out of a number of exciting things that are happening within the Media, Culture and the Arts department. Approximately 70 non-King’s artists and art world professionals attended the symposium, along with a group of King’s students and professors such as Dr. Harry Bleattler (MCA Chair), John Silvis and Dan Siedell.

CIVA, a 35-year-old organization, is committed to two things: “Serious art. Serious faith.” Their motto permeated the event, as Siedell moderated a series of conversations about art between people such as Eleanor Heartney (contributing editor to the magazine Art in America) and Kelly Crow (staff reporter covering the art world for The Wall Street Journal). The symposium served as an exciting time for MCA students to interact with influential figures within the art world.

Artists and guests discussed such questions like, “What is the art world?” and “What is a Christian’s place in the art world?” Crow compared the art world to a cocktail party that has been happening since the time of ancient cave paintings, a metaphor that drove the morning conversation on how Christians participate in this “cocktail party.” Heartney offered her professional approach to art criticism, which goes beyond giving artists all-or-nothing, pass-fail judgments.  She explained to guests that she considered herself less of a promoter in the art world and more of a participant in a conversation with the artist.

Attendants at the CIVA symposium listen to the guest panel. Photo by Kathryn Redd.

The afternoon conversation centered around theology and art. Kathryn Reklis of Fordham University asked, “What can theology gain by reclaiming art? What can art gain by reclaiming theology?” To round out the day, a panel of artists discussed how their faith affects their work and other aspects of the intersection between faith and art.

King’s parent, Ned Bustard, a gallery director, graphic designer and longtime CIVA member, helped to organize the symposium. Reflecting on the day, he stressed the importance of an event like this for MCA students.

“Today’s discussions were about the cutting edge of culture shaping, and MCA students had a seat at the table," Bustard said. "This is why King’s is here, and this is why MCA is crucial to the mission of the college." Bustard expressed his hope that the symposium would serve as a starting point for a long relationship between CIVA and King’s that grounds its mission in biblical principles.

Events like the CIVA symposium reflect ongoing progress for the MCA degree. This past month, Dr. Bleattler announced the start of MCA concentrations at a lunch meeting for MCA students. Students now have the option of adding a concentration in either Creative Writing, Cultural Criticism, Journalism, Media and Film Studies or Theater. These will make use of the 15 credit hours of MCA electives that are required to complete a MCA degree.  The department also announced exciting elective classes such as Myth, Narrative, and Art, Richard Wagner and Western Culture and The Modern Artist through Literature and Film. Though not new, these classes are now included in the concentrations program--a positive development and a sign of the degree's promising future.