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Sept. 30 and Oct. 1 - hARTsem DAYS: Celebrate the Arts and Spirituality at Hartford Seminary

hARTsem DAYS: Celebrate the Arts and Spirituality at Hartford Seminary

Hartsem Days black logo

hARTsem DAYS is a two-day celebration of the arts and spirituality at Hartford Seminary!

Below you’ll find a tentative schedule of events, workshops and exhibits, followed by the bios of participating artists. Questions can be directed to Heather Holda at hholda@hartsem.edu.

FRIDAY, SEPT. 30, 2016

9 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Art Gallery in Chapel featuring work by Janet McKenzie

Art display from CARAVAN featuring work by Dr. Reda Abdel Rahman

Unity Project – An interactive public art project that involves creating a canopy of yarn.

Rabbi Kevin Hale – Torah Scribe Exhibit

Islamic Piety Images, from the Maghreb to India – Exhibit in library organized by Prof. Yahya Michot

6 p.m.

Celebrating 50 Years of Joy is Like the Rain with Miriam Therese Winter and Friends

This free event will celebrate the Seminary’s progress in establishing a Chair in Transformative Leadership and Spirituality

Reception at 76 Sherman St., followed by a 7 p.m. concert in the Meeting Room at 77 Sherman St. that will chronicle points in Prof. Miriam Therese Winter’s life with a mixture of story and original songs. She will be joined by different musicians for each selection.

Advance registration is required

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 SATURDAY, OCT. 1, 2016

10:00 a.m. – 12 p.m. – 45-minute performances at 77 Sherman St.

10 a.m. Meeting Room – Awad Abdullah, poet “2016 Realizations”

11 a.m. Meeting Room – Matthew Valenti, piano and violin performance, Prayer Through Music

10:00 a.m.- 12 p.m. – 45-minute workshops and lectures at 76 Sherman St. (Women’s Leadership Institute Building)

10 a.m. – Workshop on Transformative Leadership and Spirituality with Prof. Miriam Therese Winter

11 a.m. – Dr. Lucinda Mosher, “Image and Imagination: The Visual Arts and Interfaith Understanding.”


12 p.m. – 2 p.m. – Alumni Lunch with panel, Budd Interfaith Building at 60 Lorraine St.
(Invitation only)

12 p.m.- 4 p.m.  Workshops and Performances Continue at 77 Sherman St.

12 p.m. Meeting Room – Shawn Fisher, Musician

1 p.m. Meeting Room – Sarah DeBeer, Storyteller

2 p.m. Meeting Room – Mosher Double-Reed Duo

2-4 p.m. Room 205 – Sabah Haider, Filmmaker Workshop and Screening

12 p.m.- 4 p.m.  Workshops and Performances Continue at 76 Sherman St.

12 p.m. – Sister Jo-Ann Iannotti, “The Artist as Contemplative.”

1 p.m. – Prayer Shawl Ministry Workshop led by the Rev. Susan Foster

2-4 p.m. – Sufism Workshop with Dr. Mahmoud Ayoub and guests – Lecture, music and discussion

4 p.m. – Alumni Reception
(Invitation only)

5 p.m.Performance by Hassan El Jai “The 40 Rules of Love”
Tickets required
$20 in advance
$25 at the door

Join us as we host actor, Hassan El Jai for his adaptation of the Forty Rules of Love, a bestselling novel by the Turkish writer Elif Shafak. El Jai takes us on a journey to the sacred city of Konya during the 13th century through the eyes of Shams of Tabriz, the spiritual mentor of Jalaluddin Rumi. The journey is an expression of how Shams encounters and manifests Divine love through unexpected ways.

Hassan Jai writes and adapts texts into three languages for theater and short-movies in Morocco. He also teaches drama, in addition to acting himself for theater and television, dubbing animation, movies, and also training individuals and groups in public speaking; all of it based on the teachings of Islam. He recently performed “The 40 Rules of Love” at the San Francisco Art Festival.

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Used Book sale outside 80 Sherman St.

Art gallery by Janet McKenzie (in Chapel at 77 Sherman St.)

Art display from CARAVAN featuring work by Dr. Reda Abdel Rahman

Art Display by Dr. JoAnne Bauer

Scribe display by Rabbi Kevin Hale

“Islamic Piety Images, from the Maghreb to India” coordinated by Prof. Yahya Michot

Unity Project (outside 77 Sherman St.)

Labyrinth Tours behind 76 Sherman St. and tea with Prof. MT Winter

Faculty Book Display in Library at 77 Sherman St.

Tours of Richard Meier Building at 77 Sherman St.

Islamic Piety Images, from the Maghreb to India – Exhibit in library organized by Prof. Yahya Michot



Awad Rashid Abdullah is from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  ”I started writing poetry in 1995 when writing the lyrics to songs was popular in my life. … My brother surprised me one day by writing a poem for me to try and say myself.  I did quite well, and it stuck because I was small and it was a unique talent.  After a couple of years I wrote for myself.  Later, I found that my writing style catered more to the music I listened to rather than my persona, so the longevity of my craft was shortened.  I began to remove degrading language and ideas completely, and stick more to focusing on speaking against oppression, and the plaguing cultivation of negativity (racism, sexism, and so on) that runs through society under the radar.  I have written over 100 poems/songs, and am compiling a poetry book with some of my most popular lyrics.  I have recorded about three albums, done shows in PA and CT so far, and handed out complimentary albums to military and friends of literally all ages and statuses with nothing but positive responses and analyses. I am also a qualified Muslim Chaplain and an Elementary School Teacher.  My inspirations are my mother and father.  I am Hartford Seminary Class of 2014 (Islamic Chaplaincy), a Veteran Naval Officer, and Rutgers University Class of 2001 (Administration of Justice).”

Dr. Mahmoud Ayoub is a retired Faculty Associate in Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations at Hartford Seminary. Sufism  is the mystical Islamic  quest for realizing the spiritual union of the human soul with the Divine. This can be achieved through the spiritual journey of the soul from the state of being “the soul enjoining evil” to the state of being “at peace with God.” These and other ideals of sufism will be introduced through a general lecture and illustrated by listening to Sufi devotional prayers of “remembrance (dhikr) of God.

JoAnne Bauer, an award-winning, Elected Artist of the West Hartford Art League, has been an invited judge for the National Arts Program, Hartford, and both the Newington and Wethersfield Art Leagues’ member exhibitions.  She also serves as a Grants Reviewer for the Greater Hartford Arts Council, a Board Member of REAP: Rough Edges Art Production in Windsor, and on the Advisory Council of Art Connection Studio at Arbor Arts Center. Hartford.  Currently, she is a juried member of the Women Artists Collective and was previously a juried member of CT Women Artists, the Canton Artists Guild, and the former Artworks Cooperative, where she served on its board of directors. 

Having studied art in courses at Brown and New York Universities, Pratt Institute, Hartford Art School, the Arts Students’ League, Central Connecticut State University and in numerous workshops, JoAnne primarily creates paper art — textured assemblages, encaustics, collages, handmade papers, and collographs — often wedded to altered photography and transfers.  Her work was juried or invited into more than 75 exhibits within a decade, including several solo shows.  In 2014, the historic Butler McCook House hosted her solo art and poetry show, where all sale proceeds were contributed to the JoAnne Bauer and Friends Fund for social justice at the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving. 

Regionally, JoAnne has had pieces juried into group exhibitions at the New Britain Museum of American Art; the Slater Museum, Norwich; Silpe Gallery, Hartford Art School; Charter Oak Cultural Center and Artworks Gallery, Hartford; Gallery on the Green, Canton; Fisher Gallery, Avon; PhotoSynthesis Gallery 136 ½, Manchester; the Saltbox and Clubhouse Galleries, West Hartford; and Mac 650, Middletown; among others.  She has also exhibited at Lincoln Center, NYC; Bradley International Airport, Windsor Locks; Westmoor Park, West Hartford (Poetry in the Parks project); Lost Acres Vineyard, North Granby and various other retail locations and libraries; Golden Thread Gallery soiree and other fundraising events; and she has work in private collections.

Sara deBeer has been delighting audiences of all ages with her repertoire of international folktales since 1978.  Listeners savor the wit and wisdom of the stories she tells. Her wide variety of programs includes Legends of King Arthur, Folktales from the Many Cultures of Africa, Tales of Women Wise and Wondrous, Jewish Tales for Young and Old, and Irish Stories collected on her fellowship with Yale University.

Sara has performed in libraries, senior centers, hospitals, parks, museums, classrooms, theaters, school auditoriums, and daycare centers.  Along with being a featured artist at the Connecticut Storytelling Festival in New London, CT , the Three Apples Festival in Harvard, MA., and Hartford’s First Night, she is listed in the Connecticut Commission on Culture and Tourism’s Directory of Performing Artists, Connecticut’s directory of outstanding performing artists

An experienced classroom teacher with degrees from Yale and Bank Street, Sara offers workshops for tellers at every level of experience.  Sara has provided lively workshops for Connecticut’s Institutes for Teaching and Learning; “Sharing the Fire,” Boston’s annual storytelling conference; and the Storytelling Institute at Southern Connecticut State University. She has worked with audiences of all ages and her goal is always to ensure that conversations occur in an environment of respect and trust.

A board member of the Connecticut Storytelling Center since its inception, Sara deBeer never stops developing ways to share her love of stories with others.   Her newest recording, Women of Wisdom, Women of Faith, contains a quartet of Jewish folktales.  Her popular recording, Seven Stories, offers listeners selections from two separate programs, with Tales of Deep Rooted Magic on side one and Tales of Women, Wise and Wondrous  on side two.

Shawn Fisher is an accomplished vocalist and songwriter. Starting at a young age Shawn sang and performed as a soloist and various choral groups throughout New England. After college he began to experiment with writing. At first just for himself, then for close family and friends, then a few others. Soon he played at local venues, and attention to his music and demand for his songwriting increased. Inspired by many artists, Shawn has written several albums ranging from romantic to religious, secular to satire. He has taken on topics ranging from relationships with family and friends, to the loss of a friend due to suicide, to coming of age, to being a father, to some of his favorite pastimes such as Wiffleball! Shawn and his family are passionate about humanitarian work and this is clearly reflected in his music. Increasingly his attention has turned to songs in the Contemporary Christian genre. Shawn’s music is vocally driven, with lyrics that are meant to be both meaningful and accessible. He is currently working on his latest album that is expected to be titled “My Call”. Several of the songs from this album have been posted publicly on ReverbNation as well as Facebook. This will be a Contemporary Christian album that reflects his recent decision to follow an increasingly clear “call” to ministry as well as his decision (his “call”) to move in that new direction; and away from a 25 year corporate career.

Sue Foster is a UCC pastor and writer who serves the East Woodstock Congregational Church. Her passions include using creativity to express God’s hospitality, welcome, and healing love with all of God’s people. She is a proud alumni of Hartford Seminary, having completed her Doctor of Ministry in 2014.  Her blog is www.fosteringyourfaith.wordpress.com

Sabah Haider is a filmmaker and writer based between Montreal, Canada and Beirut, Lebanon. She has made three short films and is development on two feature projects. THE SEASON IS TURQUOISE has been supported in development by the Harold Greenberg Fund, SODEC, and the CFC. Her other project, BEIRUT SOLO was developed in the Torino Film Lab and the Dubai International Film Festival’s Interchange program in 2011, with support from the Dubai Film Clinic, Canada Arts Council and Abu Dhabi Sanad Fund. Both features are being produced by Couzin Films, Montreal.

Haider’s 2012 short film ABU RAMI has screened in over 50 festivals, including Sao Paolo, Edinburgh, Abu Dhabi, Milan, Rome, Izmir, and has aired on the BBC. Haider is currently in post-production on her new short film THE LEGEND OF RUBY PASHA, which has been supported by the Quebec Arts Council (CALQ). In 2014 Haider was selected to participate in the Talents Program at the Berlinale Interational Film Festval.

Haider began her career as a journalist, between the USA, UK and Middle East. She holds a BA in Political Science from the University of Guelph and an MA in Film Studies from the University College London, UK, where she was awarded the Provost’s Award for Public Engagement for developing filmmaking workshops for youth in refugee communities in Lebanon and Palestine. She is currently a joint PhD candidate at the Centre for Interdisciplinary Studies in Society and Culture at Concordia University in Montreal and the Department of Social Anthropology & Ethnology at the EHESS in Paris, France.

Rabbi Kevin Hale has the distinction of being a protege of one of the pre-eminent Sofers of the 20th century, Dr. Rabbi Eric Ray, z”l. Rabbi Hale is also an ordained Rabbi, having studied at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College and graduating in 1997. In 2001, following several years of congregational work and experience, he began apprenticing with Rabbi Eric Ray to become a sofer STaM. Throughout his rabbinate Rabbi Hale has remained committed to his interest in hands-on-Judaism.

Jo-Anne Iannotti is a Dominican Sister of Hope, a published author, and a photographer. After receiving her Bachelor’s of Education from Mount Saint Mary College in Newburgh and a Master’s Degree in Theology from Fordham University in Bronx, she was an elementary and secondary educator in New York and New Jersey. She then worked as a reporter and photographer for the Catholic Transcript. She has scripted programs for the Office of Radio and Television for the Archdiocese of Hartford and was the Director of Religious Education at St. Ann Parish in Avon, CT. Frequently, Sister Jo-Ann lectures on the 14th Century English mystic, Julian of Norwich, as well as the inter-relationship between Art and Spirituality. She now serves as the Art and Spirituality Coordinator at Wisdom House Retreat and Conference Center in Litchfield, CT. She authored Remember, Return, Rejoice: Journeying from Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday.

Hassan Jai has been passionate about theatre since childhood and connaisseur of Molière and Shakespeare; Hassan got his acting training at the Lee Strasberg Theater and Film Institute, then at the Cours Florent – where he notably improved his baritone voice, and obtained a professional actor’s degree with the highest honors.

He now writes and adapts texts into three languages, for theatre and short-movies in Morocco. He also teaches drama, in addition to acting himself for theatre and television, dubbing animation, movies, and also training individuals and groups in public speaking; all of it based on the teachings of Islam. He recently performed “40 Rules of Love in the Fall” at the San Francisco Art Festival.

Janet McKenzie’s exhibit at the Hartford Seminary Chapel will be comprised of inclusive sacred imagery of many of her well-known works, including “Joseph and Jesus”, “Mary Magdalene-Invitation to

Jesus of the People

Jesus of the People

Love”, “Jesus of the People” and many others. Her art will be featured as large and small laminated prints as many of her original paintings are in collections and unavailable for exhibit. This format, which presents her art beautifully, has proven to be very popular. Art is for sale. Oct 1, 10am – 5pm, the artist will be present. Exhibit on view Friday, Sept. 30.

Artist Janet McKenzie came to national prominence through her painting ‘Jesus of the People’, which Sr. Wendy Beckett selected First Place Winner of the National Catholic Reporter’s global competition “Jesus 2000”. Revealed for the first time on the “Today Show” in New York McKenzie’s inclusive, dark interpretation modeled by a woman infuriated many with the artist receiving threats of all kinds as well as enormous publicity. Over time however people across the world defended and embraced ‘Jesus of the People’ as a true icon of our time. The painting, which honors two groups traditionally marginalized and left out of iconic imagery of Christ – people of color and women, invariably invites conversation.

“This was a Jesus for the dark Continents, the dark spaces in society, the darkness in our lives. This Jesus was definitely one with the poor, the outcasts; the marginalized and women.”

Valerie Maysie D’Souza (India) “Jesus of the People” – The Role of Art in Theological Reflection, “In God’s Image, Asian Women Doing Theology” (2002-12, Vol. 21, No. 4)

Janet McKenzie was the 2013 William Belden Noble Lecturer at Harvard University’s Memorial Church. “Holiness and the Feminine Spirit-the Art of Janet McKenzie”, published by Orbis Books, Maryknoll, NY, won the 2010 First Place Award for Spirituality from the Catholic Press Association. In 2013 she collaborated with Sr. Joan Chittister, OSB on their book “The Way of the Cross-the Path to New Life”. She has received commissions from various faith traditions including, the University of Dayton, North United Church of Christ, Mepkin Abbey, Carlow University and Loyola University, Chicago, among many others.

Dr. Yahya Michot, who has organized the Islamic Piety Images exhibit in the library, has put together a collection of 50 items that have never been shown in public. 

Through the centuries, the so-called ban on figurative representations in Islam has not prevented Muslim societies from creating a fascinating religious iconography. Thanks to the printing press, the twentieth century witnessed a huge production of such images and posters, sometimes of great format, in both Sunn? and Sh?‘? communities. These “native coloured lithographs,” as Hartford Seminary Professor Duncan B. Macdonald (d. 1943) called them, could be bought in Tunis and Cairo, Istanbul, Tehran or Delhi, and decorated many Muslim homes. A number of them are not reprinted anymore and belong to an almost extinct form of popular Islamic art. The fifty items presented in this exhibition are part of a collection put together during the last decades by a widely travelled scholar of Islamic studies and have never been shown in public. The exhibition documents six dimensions of this rich universe of Islamic popular imagery: 1. God and His Messenger 4. The Twelve Im?ms 2. The Holy Cities 5. The Friends of God 3. Stories of the Prophets 6. Epic Days

This exhibit will open in conjunction with hARTsem DAYS on Sept. 30 and will remain in the library until oct. 12.

Lucinda Allen Mosher is a moral theologian in the Anglican tradition and works in the arena of multifaith concerns as an educator, author, and consultant. Presently, she is Faculty Associate in Interfaith Studies at Hartford Seminary, teaching courses on chaplaincy, America’s religious diversity, comparative theology, and Christian-Muslim. Concurrently, she is Professor of Ecumenical, Interfaith, and Anglican Studies at Séminaire de Théologie d’Église Épiscopale d’Haïti (Port au Prince), and Assistant Academic Director of the Building Bridges Seminar (an international dialogue of Christian and Muslim scholars). Her many publications include the Faith in the Neighborhood series from Seabury Books. Dr. Mosher holds a Master’s degree from Hartford Seminary and Doctor of Theology degree from General Theological Seminary (NYC). She resides in Doctors Inlet, Florida.

Barrie Mosher (oboe) and Lucinda Mosher (bassoon) have been making instrumental music together (on double-reeds and recorders, mostly) since 1965. Each holds a Bachelor of Music degree from Boston University and a Master of Music degree from UMass-Lowell. In addition to their work as woodwind players, Barrie is a composer; Lucinda is Director of Music at St Mary’s Episcopal Church (Green Cove Springs, Florida). As Episcopalians, the Moshers affirm St Augustine’s notion that “the person who sings prays twice”: because they believe that performance of instrumental music can likewise be an act of devotion, they have shared their music with congregations in Italy, Germany, the Netherlands, and numerous places in the US—most recently in northeast Florida, where they now reside.

Dr. Reda Abdel Rahman was born in Ismalia, Egypt, and studied at the University of Minya at the College of Fine Arts. Being surrounded by outstanding Pharonic monuments and Coptic monasteries left a lasting impression on Reda, one of Egypt’s leading contemporary artists. It has resulted in his artistic expression focusing on the relationship between what he regards as his ancient Egyptian heritage and the demands of contemporary life.

 Not only has Reda enjoyed a prolific and international career in the arts but he has also encouraged others by participating in a number of varied initiatives designed to promote artists and the Egyptian art scene.  In this regard, he has been integral to the formation of internationally recognized events such as the Luxor Painting Symposium and the formation of the annual Aswan Sculpture Symposium. He has led the Fustat workshops in Old Cairo that brings together a range of artists from around the Middle East. Reda also established an art magazine and curated a gallery in downtown Cairo, both titled Portrait. His artistic career has taken him around the world, from Latin America to Europe.

Matthew Valenti is a professional musician, educator, conductor, music director and composer.  He has performed in hundreds of venues both home and abroad.  A 43 year public school teacher, he has also taught at prestigious private schools as well.   He co-wrote 7 musicals with his wife Barbara Sargent-Valenti.  All their musicals had World Premieres at the historic 1700 seat Warner Theatre stage.  Currently he is working as Director of Choral Activities at Wamogo High School.  He is also Director of Music Ministries at Center Congregational Church in Torrington, Connecticut.  He was the music director of several shows at the Warner Theatre, and at Saint Mary’s Children’s Theater.  For 40 years, he performed at many restaurants on the piano and the violin.  Mr. Valenti mostly plays very intently with his eyes closed.  He often says he is praying while performing.  He has 3 CD’s that he recorded.  He has impacted the lives of ten’s of thousands of students.  He’s been a teacher activist for most of his career and President of the Teacher’s Union in Torrington for 12 years, elected by an overwhelming majority 6 times in a row.  At present, besides teaching, he performs at assisted living facilities and convalescent homes where he is warmly received. 

Miriam Therese Winter came to Hartford Seminary to establish a department of  liturgy, worship, and spirituality. She introduced ecumenical and cross-cultural emphases in theory and in practice, then developed feminist and multifaith approaches that have culminated in a quantum perspective.

Miriam Therese is a Medical Mission Sister. Her award-winning books on biblical women, feminist ritual and spirituality, and more recently, quantum spirituality, are the result of her penchant for exploring new and more authentic ways of living faith fully in a constantly evolving universe. Her scholarship is rooted in what she likes to call the liturgy of life. This is shaped by her multifaceted experiences locally and around the world, especially among those who are powerless and poor, with women who are incarcerated, and with any who are willing to help bring about a more just and peace-filled planet.

While she relishes scholarship and research, Miriam Therese is at heart a singer of songs and a pioneer in introducing folk-style music into Catholic liturgical tradition. Her first recording, Joy is Like the Rain, went Gold in the 1960’s, and her Mass of a Pilgrim People was recorded live at its premier performance in Carnegie Hall. Many of her recorded songs continue to be sung by people of faith worldwide. In honor of her contribution to contemporary sacred music, the Sacred Folk Song Project of Saint Bernadette Institute in Albuquerque is compiling  a 5-CD set of more than 100 of her songs sung by performing artists from many faith traditions. The first, Loving You, was released in 2012, and the second Breath of the Spirit, was released in early 2016. Miriam Therese’s autobiography, The Singer and the Song, was recently released as an audiobook with narration and songs recorded by Grammy-winning artist Janis Ian.

A former professor at Princeton calls Miriam Therese a metaphorical theologian. To her students, colleagues, and friends, she is simply MT.

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