Art and Faith Conference Looks at Concept of Story in World of Fragmented Stories

Feb. 20, 2014 By Jenna Bartlo

LA MIRADA, CALIF. — Despite the influence of the spiritual life on some of the most prominent art throughout history, there is a gap in recent decades acknowledged by those in and out of the Christian cultural scene that good art and Christianity are not complementary, but more like oil and water. Helping bridge the gap between the arts and faith is Biola University’s Center for Christianity, Culture and Arts [CCCA].

A new art conference, Razor’s Edge, sponsored and hosted by the CCCA, has been developed to create a compelling forum for artists to gather to discuss and think about their vocation in a contemporary context. It’s an open space for dialogue between Christians and non-Christians regarding the relationship of art and faith. The conference theme, Transcending the iWorld: Extraordinary Stories in a Fragmented Age, will explore the role of story in a world overwhelmed with stories thanks to social media and other technology.

“Thanks to technologies like Twitter, Facebook, blogs, camera phones and YouTube — most everyone has a platform,” said Barry Krammes, professor of art and director of CCCA. “But amidst the constantly buzzing barrage of micro-narratives, digital diaries and fragmented confessions, where do the big stories fit in? Do transcendent stories matter in the iWorld?” 

Award-winning novelist Ron Hansen, will help lead an in-depth look at the power of story at Razor’s Edge. Hansen and his wife, also an award-winning novelist, Bo Caldwell, are the CCCA’s Spring 2014 visionaries-in-residence. Hansen and Caldwell’s works have been hailed as “beautifully crafted” (The New York Times), “absorbing, engaging reads” (Christianity Today), and “diverse and expansive” (The Washington Post).

“This interdisciplinary conference will explore the relationship between individual stories and meta-narratives in contemporary culture,” said Krammes. “Through lectures, performances, panel discussions and workshops involving thinkers and creatives from across a variety of art genres, conference participants will seek to understand the interplay between little s and big S stories.” 

The goals of Razor’s Edge are also to foster rich cross-disciplinary discussions concerning contemporary visual culture and to positively contribute to a broader regional Christian academic discourse. The conference will feature film screenings, performances, a special gallery exhibition, roundtable discussions for specific disciplines, author readings, interviews, and exposure to some of the most gifted and intriguing culture makers at work today.

Conference presenters include philanthropist Roberta Ahmanson; Canadian art critic David Goa; social commentator Marcia Dawkins; authors Tim Downs, Ron Hasen and Brett McCracken; Poet Chris Baron; C.S. Lewis Scholar Chris Mitchell, and artists Laura Lasworth and Jason Leith. Saturday evening, March 1, The Brilliance will be featured in a concert in Sutherland Hall. This unusual conference is free and open to the public.

The CCCA will host “An Evening with Ron Hansen” Friday, February 28 at 7 p.m. in the recital hall of Biola’s Conservatory of Music. Hansen will return with Caldwell on March 19 and 20 for a variety of additional events. For a complete listing of CCCA offerings visit All Hansen/Caldwell events are free and open to the public.


Over the years the Biola University Department of Art has hosted a series of visual arts symposia that have engaged both the Biola academic community as well as the larger Southern California arts community in stimulating and thoughtful dialogues regarding contemporary art and Christian faith. With the creation of the new Center for Christianity, Culture and the Arts, the annual arts symposium now comes under the auspices of the CCCA and is currently being reformatted. The new conference called Razor’s Edge will have a much wider focus and will include speakers from all of the arts in dialog with theologians as well as other academics and professionals.



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