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Constructed Mysteries
Date Monday, February 8 - Sunday, April 18, 2021
Location Olson Gallery - View maps and directions
Bethel University
3900 Bethel Dr St Paul MN 55112

Event Description

Tour Dates and Locations (the exhibition tour has concluded):

  • Bethel University, Olson Gallery, MN: February 8 - April 18, 2021
  • University of Mary Hardin-Baylor, Baugh Center for the Visual Arts, TX: September 20 - October 22, 2021
  • Hope College, De Pree Art Gallery, MI: November 22 - December 10, 2021
  • College of the Ozarks, Boger Gallery, MO: January 17 - March 2, 2022
  • Wheaton College, Walford Galleries, IL: August 24 - September 21, 2022


Virtual Viewing: Instagram @bethelgalleries

Video Tour of the Exhibition: Viewable here

View the Catalog:

Would you like a catalog sent to you? Please email Michelle Westmark Wingard at m-wingard@bethel.edu.

About the Exhibition

Constructed Mysteries is an exhibit that offers a conversation through artwork and interviews about the ways in which spiritual practice and artistic practice intersect. 

The exhibit is based on the idea that artists of faith have a unique set of spiritual insights about a number of important and timely issues because of their experience within artistic practice. These insights have been uniquely discarded within contemporary Christianity and as a result, we have been cut off from sources of wisdom and interaction with the divine that have historically been a part of our spiritual tradition. Recovering this perspective is not only helpful for the artist on a personal level, but also of keen importance to the larger Christian culture. 

Constructed Mysteries showcases the art of ten artists or artist teams whose work engages Christian spirituality, and discusses points of intersection with their artistic practice. Interviews with the artists, compiled by artist and author Kenneth Steinbach, offers an in-depth look at such topics such as silence, the importance of process, and the nature of parable. In participating in this project, the artists have opened the door to their practice to an unusual degree in both artwork and personal observation, offering ways of thinking about one of the central questions for artists of faith: What is the relationship between artistic and spiritual practice, and why do those ideas matter?

This exhibit stems from a larger body of research on artistic practice. Kenneth Steinbach’s book Creative Practices for Visual Artists: Time, Space, Process (Routledge Press, 2018) is a reassessment of the methods and approaches used by highly successful artists in their practices. Based on interviews with a culturally, geographically, and aesthetically diverse group of 75 mid-career artists, the book offers concrete resources and solutions to the challenges created over the last fifteen years by the culture of assessment in K-12 education, the impact of digital media and culture, and the high costs of college education.

Artists include: Heather Nameth Bren, Shin-hee Chin, Caroline Kent, Scott Kolbo, Joyce Yu-Jean Lee, Nery Gabriel Lemus, Marianne Lettieri, Cherith Lundin, Justin Randolph Thompson and Bradly Dever Treadaway.

Image: Cherith Lundin, "Surface Incidents," Inkjet print on paper (artist book detail), 2020

About the Artists

Heather Nameth Bren is a studio artist who specializes in ceramic sculpture and installation. Conceptually based, Bren explores ideas of truth and perception through her ceramic and mixed media installations. She has worked with ceramic sculpture for over twenty years and has exhibited locally, nationally and internationally. In addition to Bren's studio practice, she is an Associate Professor of Art & Design at Bethel University in Minnesota. She also serves on the executive board of trustees at Northern Clay Center in Minneapolis, MN.

Shin-hee Chin is a fiber/mixed-media artist and Professor of Art at Tabor College. Chin has created a coherent narrative addressing issues of the female body, cultural identity, and sense of belonging.

Caroline Kent is a Chicago-based visual artist that explores the relationship between language, translation, and abstraction through an expanded painting practice. Kent has exhibited nationally at The Flag Art Foundation, The Walker Art Center, The DePaul Art Museum, The California African American Museum, The Suburban, Chicago, and The Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago. She has received grants from the Joan Mitchell Foundation, the Artadia Foundation (Chicago Awardee), The Pollock Krasner Foundation, The McKnight Foundation, and The Jerome Foundation and her work resides in the collections of the Walker Art Center and The Art Institute of Chicago. Kent  is represented by PATRON Gallery in Chicago and Kohn Gallery in Los Angeles. 

Scott Kolbo is a lifelong resident of the Pacific Northwest, studying at Boise State University as an undergraduate before leaving for a few years to earn his Master of Fine Arts degree in Printmaking from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He currently resides in Seattle Washington, where he works as a professor of art. He is interested in pursuing creative projects that incorporate new technologies into traditional art making strategies and that mix together elements from high and low culture. Scott exhibits his work locally, nationally, and in web-based formats.

Joyce Yu-Jean Lee is an American-born Chinese-Taiwanese visual artist and educator based in New York City. Her work examines how media, technology, and culture influence truth and understanding of the “other.” She makes artwork fabricated from digital photography, video, and interactive installation combining social practice with institutional critique. Lee is an Assistant Professor of Art & Digital Media at Marist College in Poughkeepsie, New York.

Nery Gabriel Lemus was born in Los Angeles, in 1977. The subjects in his work range from issues of stereotype and immigration to problems in society that can lead to the failure of families, such as poverty, abuse, and neglect. Lemus received his BFA at Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California (2007) and his MFA at the California Institute of the Arts in Valencia, California (2009) He is represented by Charlie James Gallery in Los Angeles and is the director of the MFA in Visual Art program at Azusa Pacific University.

Marianne Lettieri creates art that investigates shifts in cultural and individual values associated with found objects. She presents these artifacts in new configurations that reinforce the interconnectedness of people and communities through time and call attention to the enchantment of the everyday. Solo exhibitions include San Francisco Museum of Craft and Design, San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles, Fort Worth Community Art Center, Azusa Pacific University, and Doug Adams Gallery at Graduate Theological Union. She is a recipient of the Silicon Valley Laureate award for achievement in the arts.

Cherith Lundin works across a variety of media, exploring ephemeral perceptions of light and space within every day architecture. She grew up in Germany, and received an MFA from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. She has shown her work nationally and internationally, and has been the recipient of numerous fellowships, including grants from the Joan Mitchell Foundation, Jerome Foundation, Minnesota Center for Book Arts, and a HATCH Project Residency with the Chicago Artists Coalition. She is currently Associate Professor of Art at Wheaton College, where she teaches painting, drawing, and printmaking.

Justin Randolph Thompson is a new media artist, cultural facilitator and educator living between Italy and the US since 1999. Thompson is Co-Founder and Director of Black History Month Florence, an inter-institutional exploration of Afro Descendent peoples and cultures in the context of Italy founded in 2016. A recipient of a Louis Comfort Tiffany Award, a Franklin Furnace Fund Award, a Visual Artist Grant from the Fundacion Marcelino Botin, two Foundation for Contemporary Arts Emergency Grants, a Jerome Fellowship from Franconia Sculpture Park and an Emerging Artist Fellowship from Socrates Sculpture Park, his life and work engage fleeting temporary communities as monuments and foster projects that connect academic discourse, social activism and DIY networking strategies in annual and biennial gathering, sharing and gestures of collectivity.

Bradly Dever Treadaway is a Brooklyn based artist and teacher utilizing lens-based image making, moving images, sound, sculpture, installation and performance to comment on the breakdown of intergenerational communication and broken familial links due to natural disaster, technological evolution, mental health challenges, societal shifts and the continuance of interpersonal detachment occurring within American communities. His work is visualized through archival interventions, recontextualizing the archive to serve as form, medium, subject matter and concept, and elevated domestic rituals while questioning material significance within the photographic medium. Treadaway creates memorials, monuments and mnemonic devices to illustrate ancestral collisions with contemporary responses.

About the Curators

Kenneth Steinbach is the author of Creative Practices for Visual Artists: Time, Space, Process by Routledge Press, and the recipient of the 8th Bethel University Professor Award. Working within a range of media and visual traditions, he exhibits broadly throughout the US and elsewhere, and has received numerous grants in direct support of his art and research. A graduate of Cranbrook Art Academy, Kenneth is the recipient of the 2014 Arlin G. Meyer award in visual art from the Lily Foundation , a Faculty Excellence Award in Teaching, and Edgren Scholars Grant from Bethel University. Recent exhibits include Uluslararasi International Istanbul Biennial; Trykkeriet Center for Printmaking in Bergen, Norway; the Plains Art Museum, Fargo; and Equity Gallery, New York. His work is included in the collection of the Walker Art Center and numerous other institutions. Kenneth resides in Minneapolis with his wife Kari, a theatrical director.  

Michelle Westmark Wingard is a curator, installation-based photographer, and arts educator. She is Professor of Art and Gallery Director of Bethel University’s two exhibition spaces. In her fourteen years of programming exhibitions, Westmark Wingard has worked with numerous artists in a diverse range of media. Her curatorial projects often seek to create experiential and participatory opportunities exploring themes of memory, memorial, perception, and interconnection. Previously, she was Assistant to the Gallery Director in Pratt Institute’s Department of Exhibitions and she had the opportunity to work with Creative Time and A.I.R. Gallery. Westmark Wingard holds an MFA in photography from Pratt Institute, Brooklyn (2006). She lives with her husband and daughters in Minneapolis, Minnesota.


Contact Gallery Director Michelle Westmark Wingard at 651.638.6527 or m-wingard@bethel.edu.