30th annual Sacred Arts Festival features internationally renowned photography exhibit, 'Hard Rain,' and film, music, theater

Photo: © Mark Edwards/Still Pictures from "Hard Rain," 2006,
Still Pictures Moving Words Ltd.

30th annual Sacred Arts Festival features internationally renowned photography exhibit,
'Hard Rain,' and film, music, theater

"Earth Blessings" is the theme of the 30th annual Sacred Arts Festival opening next week at the University of St. Thomas. The festival, open to the public, is a celebration of sacred art and an exploration of faith.

The centerpiece of this year's festival is a compelling photography exhibit, "Hard Rain: Our Headlong Collision With Nature." Weather permitting, installation begins this week, although the exhibit officially is open Oct. 13-Nov. 14 outdoors on the St. Paul campus quadrangle and Nov. 24-Dec. 19 in the walkway between Terrence Murphy Hall and Schulze Hall on the university's Minneapolis campus.

The exhibition, which has been seen all over the world, marries the words of Bob Dylan's song, "A Hard Rain's A- Gonna Fall," with images by Mark Edwards, a British photographer and founder of the photo agency Still Pictures Moving Words Ltd., on the subject of climate change, poverty and extinction.

In July 1969, Edwards, lost on the edge of the Sahara Desert, was rescued by a Tuareg nomad who took the photographer to his people, built a fire and produced a battered cassette player. That was the first time Edwards heard this song of Dylan's, written during the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis.

The idea came to Edwards of illustrating each line of the song for, as Dylan has said, "It doesn't really matter where a song comes from. It just matters where it takes you." Edwards traveled to more than 150 countries to photograph our "headlong collision with nature." In this traveling display, a 164-foot banner contains the song's lyrics and 42 images.

Edwards will give a lecture at 7 p.m. Monday, Oct. 20, in 3M Auditorium of the university's Owens Science Hall.

Festival events are free unless indicated otherwise. Others include:

  • 8:15 p.m. Monday, Oct. 27, in the Chapel of St. Thomas Aquinas: A recital by award-winning organist and composer Pamela Decker of the University of Arizona at Tucson. She will perform one of her own compositions and works by Cross, Yukl, Whitehouse, Crumb and Messiaen.
  • 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 28, in Room 108 of O'Shaughnessy-Frey Library Center: Jude Nutter, winner of the 2007 Minnesota Book Award for poetry, will read from her works.

Her collections include Pictures of the Afterlife (Salmon Poetry, Ireland, 2002) and The Curator of Silence (University of Notre Dame Press, 2007). Her new book, I Wish I Had A Heart Like Yours, Walt Whitman, is forthcoming.

  • 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 11, in Room 126, John R. Roach Center for the Liberal Arts: The film, "Don't Look Back," D.A. Pennebaker's 1968 documentary of Bob Dylan's 1965 British tour, will be screened.
  • 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 13, in Room 126, John R. Roach Center for the Liberal Arts: The film, "Baraka: A World Beyond Words," Ron Fricke and Mark Magidson's 1992 epic nonverbal film, contains images of 24 countries, has no script and no actors, but tells the story of the earth's evolution, human diversity and interconnection, and our impact on the planet.  

Dr. David Barnes, associate professor in the Department of Fine Arts at Southeastern Oklahoma State University in Durant, Okla., will introduce and comment on the film.

  • 3 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 16, in the Chapel of St. Thomas Aquinas: The Minnesota Boychoir, conducted by Mark Johnson, presents a concert, "O Colored Earth." Founded in 1962, this choir is the oldest boychoir in the Twin Cities metropolitan area. Consisting of boys 7 to 18, it has sung in major national and international venues; last year, the Minnesota Boychoir sang with the Minnesota Orchestra and headlined the World Voices Australia International Choral Festival at the famed Opera House in Sydney, Australia.
  • 7 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday, Nov. 19-22 and 2 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 23, in Foley Theater: Students from St. Thomas and the College of St. Catherine present " Godspell," a 1970 rock musical by Stephen Schwartz and John-Michael Tebelak about the power of faith. Tickets are $5 for general admission and free to students, faculty and staff with an ID from the Associated Colleges of the Twin Cities ( St. Thomas, St. Catherine, Augsburg College, Macalester College and Hamline University). Seating is limited; reservations will be taken at The O'Shaughnessy Ticket Office at St. Catherine, (651) 690-6700.

For more information see the Sacred Arts Festival Web site.