The Station Museum of Contemporary Art is pleased to announce an panel discussion on art, activism, and spirituality on Wednesday, August 22nd at 6:30pm.
This particular political moment has seen the overwhelming involvement of art and faith communities, both advocating various causes and making their positions known. It is, therefore, imperative to open up dialogue between faiths as well as between the art, activist, and spiritual spheres. Historically, art, activism, and religion/spirituality have had many moments of overlap. We hope to tease apart the ways in which these forces work together as well as how they contradict each other.
The participants will each give a brief introduction then we will launch into a panel discussion. If there’s time after the discussion, we will open up for question and answer.
Jessica B. Davenport is a native of Little Rock, Arkansas where she graduated from the historic Little Rock Central High School. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Spelman College and a Master of Divinity with a certificate in Black Church Studies from Emory University’s Candler School of Theology. Currently, Jessica is a doctoral student in African American Religion at Rice University in Houston, Texas. During her time at Rice, she was a doctoral fellow with The Fund for Theological Education and a Civic Humanist Fellow in Art and Cultural Heritage with the Rice University Humanities Research Center. Jessica’s research interests include theories of black religion, aesthetics and visual culture, with a particular focus on the religious significance of black women’s visual art. In addition to her graduate work, she is also Associate Director and Editor-at-Large at Project Curate, where she creates spaces that promote critical dialogue and creative imagination as strategies for social transformation.
David Leslie is currently the Executive Director of the Rothko Chapel—an interfaith space dedicated to human rights and the connection between spirituality and art located in Houston, Texas. Leslie’s vocational interest focuses largely on engaging religious communities within a multi-sector context on issues related to peace, justice, equity and human rights. Leslie served as the executive director of Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon, Interfaith Ministries for Greater Houston, Ohio Council of Churches, World Council of Churches and Habitat for Humanity. Leslie’s current and previous professional associations include service on the board of director of the Houston Museum District Association, National Religious Campaign Against Torture, Nonprofit Association of Oregon, and the Northwest Workers’ Justice Project Advisory Board. Leslie chaired the national Ecumenical Task Force on Immigration Reform convened by the National Council of Churches U.S.A. (NCC) and Church World Service (CWS). He also served on the Oregon Department of Human Services Faith and Community-based Advisory Group, Oregon Senate Interim Committee on Farmworker Issues, Oregon Governor’s Global Warming Advisory Group, and State of Oregon Ending Homelessness Advisory Council. In 2009, Leslie received the “Eugene Carson Blake Award for Ecumenism” for interfaith and peacemaking leadership presented by the National Council of Churches. Dr. Blake, a Presbyterian minister, was a leading ecumenist and civil rights leader. Leslie is a consultant, speaker and writer on a wide range of topics related to peacemaking, interfaith relations, social justice, and religion and society. Leslie received his Bachelor of Arts from The University of Texas at Austin and his Master of Divinity from Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary.
Born and raised in Houston, Texas, Nadeen is a social impact professional, a women’s advocate, and leader in the Libyan-American and Muslim communities. Nadeen has done significant work with program and project management catalyzing grassroots change including serving as the President and on the board of directors for five years at the Libyan American Organization, the Campus ambassador for the Clinton Global Initiative, and the Global Ambassador for Libya at the World Affairs Council in Houston. Nadeen’s passion is capacity building. In New York City, she led the Social Impact department at a tech startup and supported entrepreneurship with United Nations Women in Jordan and NYC. Currently she is the Executive Director of TAIBA USA, which is a nonprofit that supports inclusion training and mentorship for women, by women in the Muslim community. Nadeen has her Masters in International Affairs in Economic and Political Development from Columbia University in New York City, and earned her BA in International Development, Finance, and economics from the University of St. Thomas in Houston, Texas with the highest honors. She recently earned her Certificate for Leadership for Nonprofit Executives from Rice University.
Matt Russell is currently on staff at St. Paul’s United Methodist Church in Houston Texas as the Senior Associate Pastor, is the Co-Managing Director of projectCURATE a social action and racial equity non-profit, Executive Director of Iconoclast Artists, a creative writing program in Houston and Galveston’s urban schools and Assistant Professor of Recovery Ministry at Fuller Theological Seminary. Prior to this he was on faculty at Duke Divinity School as professor of Practical Theology and Community Development. In 2013, he completed a two-year postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Cambridge’s Psychology and Religion Research Group (PRRG) where he explored redemptive narratives and models of social justice movements rooted in local church communities. He received his Masters of Divinity from Fuller Theological Seminary and completed his PhD at Texas Tech University in 2010. His dissertation explored how women construct alternative narratives of redemption from years of sustained trauma and abuse. While at Texas Tech is was the Associate Director at The Center for the Study of Addiction, responsible for the replication model helping to establish collegiate recovery communities in campuses across the United States. From 1996-2008 he was Associate Pastor of Houston’s Chapelwood United Methodist Church and founding pastor of Mercy Street a church for people who hated church. Matt is married to his best friend Michele and they have 3 crazy boys: Miguel (15), Lucas (14) and Gabriel (11).