‘Religious Minds Art Exhibit’ has Cabrini community look at scientific art

By Megan Conte
January 28, 2010

Shannon Keough

Radiological scans, folk religious paintings and objects narrating stories of miraculous healing were the themes for the art exhibit at Cabrini. The art pieces now fill the walls of the art gallery in the Grace and Joseph Gorevin Fine Arts Gallery in the Holy Spirit Library on the 2nd floor.

“I came to support Dr. Primiano and I am interested in an idea of science and religion. I enjoy seeing it all laid out,” John Pino, admission counselor, said.

Dr. Leonard Norman Primiano, Ph.D, associate professor and chair, department of religious studies at Cabrini College, wanted to find art that portrayed people in the various spiritual states such as prayer, meditation and participation in ritual, which Dr. Newberg had scanned.

“I saw the exhibition as a journey from the visual to the physiological and then back to the visualization of healing and religious traditions taken together. I eventually found the art that I wanted: some from my own collection, some from the Cabrini College Collection of Folk, Popular, and Ecclesiastical Art, some from Oregon, some from California,” Primiano said.

Dr. Andrew Newberg previously spoke at the invitation of Cabrini College Society for Religion and Science. Dr. Newberg is an associate professor of radiology and psychiatry. Newberg is also an adjunct assistant professor of religious studies at University of Pennsylvania.

After speaking to Newberg, Primiano had an idea to do this exhibit. Primiano suggested to Newberg that the brain scans should be viewed as an example of folk or visionary art. The scanning of the brain- SPECT imagining looks at the blood flow in different parts of the brain. By doing the scan, researchers can look at the state of the brain while doing mediation and prayer. The scan shows how one can be spiritual, which is displayed in artwork.

This artwork is a way of integrating the mind, body, brain and artistic side of us. The brain scans in the light box were previously at the visionary Art Museum in Baltimore. The museum was going to throw away the light box so Newberg was given the box. There is a video with the study at the exhibit to show injections and how it was all done.

“I like the way the art show bridges arts, humanities, sciences and social sciences. To think about mediation and prayer and change in an individual person as well as how it’s about each of our brains and spirituality and how this is universal,” Dr. Nancy Watterson, assistant professor of social justice, said.

The art show at Cabrini was planned around the light box and the different brain scans. With the help of Ben Danner, Cabrini freshman, various pieces of artwork were picked to be in the show. The art show is financially supported by the Motanexus Foundation, which supports work on religion and science.

“I believe that it may be one of the few times anyone mixed religion and science showed the interface to be of value in an artistically Metanexus supported project,” Primiano said.

Ben Danner spoke with professor Nicholas Jacques about posting the artwork in the gallery for the greatest effect.

“It was very interesting. To learn how religious experiences effects the brain and how all exhibits around it related to that one subject,” John Crouse, freshman, said.

Primiano periodically curates a different exhibit of religious folk art, which includes pieces from Cabrini Colleges religious folk art collections, which now include Don Yoder collection of religious folk art. This exhibit is up until February 21, 2010.

“This is terrific and I am so excited about it. I enjoy sharing the results of my research, get ideas out there and get people thinking. I like to get people to think and everyone thinks differently. Everyone expresses there spiritually differently and learns differently,” Newberg said.

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Megan Conte

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