News Release: Arts and Humanities, Events, Religion and Ethics

Mar. 25,  2009

Renowned Artist John August Swanson to Speak at Candler

News Article ImageView video of theology school dean Jan Love talking about the school's recently acquired John August Swanson collection. (RealPlayer required.)

Internationally renowned artist John August Swanson will speak on the creative process and the development of his art during four public events at Emory University’s Candler School of Theology March 24-26. With holdings of more than 38 pieces, Candler has acquired the largest collection of Swanson’s work.

Swanson’s finely detailed, brilliantly colored paintings and original prints are in the permanent collections of such prestigious venues as the Smithsonian Institution, the Art Institute of Chicago, London’s Tate Gallery and the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Vatican Museums’ Collection of Modern Religious Art and the Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris.

Candler's Collection

Though Swanson’s work portrays both religious and secular subjects, there is an overarching theme of embracing life and spiritual transformation. Optimistic but rarely sentimental, his pieces offer new perspectives on familiar scenes and stories. Candler’s collection features epic visual narratives from the Bible that blend the sacred and the everyday as well as smaller scenes of circus clowns, figures Swanson calls the “distillers of human experience.”

About Swanson's Process

The majority of Swanson’s pieces are complex serigraphs, or original screen prints. Serigraphy is a method of printmaking in which the artist draws a stencil, which is then transferred to a screen of silk or other fine mesh. The blank areas are blocked with an impenetrable substance and ink is forced through the screen onto the printing surface. Each color printed requires a separate stencil and screen; the inks are then printed one at a time in layers, with drying time in between applications. Swanson’s serigraphs are unusually complex, both in their detail and in the number of stencils used. His piece "Procession," for example, used 89 stencils.


•    Swanson will explain his artistic process in a special event for Emory students from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., Tuesday, March 24, in room 252 at Candler. RSVP at

•    Swanson will deliver the Whiteside Lecture, which will focus on the six-panel narrative of the birth of Jesus on permanent display at Candler, 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Wednesday, March 25, in room 252, Candler.

•    A drop-in reception, booksigning and self-guided tours will celebrate the formal opening of the Swanson Collection at Candler from 5 to 8 p.m. Swanson will give remarks at 6 p.m. RSVP by calling 404.727.6352.

•    A worship service at 11 a.m. Thursday, March 26 in Cannon Chapel will feature four of Swanson’s pieces.

Events are free and open to the public, but RSVP's are required for the Emory student seminar March 24 and the art opening March 25. Events are sponsored in part by Emory University’s strategic initiatives on Creativity & Arts and Religions and the Human Spirit. 

More details about the Opening of the Swanson Art Collection.

Original release posted March 11, 2009


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