Affinity Intercultural Foundation held its final lecture the year titled
‘Finding spirituality through art in the modern world: According to Jewish, Christian, and Islamic perspectives’ by Goldman Professorial Lecturer in Theology and Fine Arts, Professor Ori Z. Soltes from Georgetown University on 24 September at the Affinity Office in Sydney CBD.
The event was a remarkable success with the room filled with people of a wide variety of religious backgrounds (Muslim, Christian, Jewish, Baha’i, Sikh and Atheists). The lecture was facilitated by John Cleary, a veteran ABC broadcaster and one of Australia’s best-known commentators on religion. Attendees were captivated with Professor Soltes’s extensive knowledge and passion for religious and interfaith art. Professor Soltes used specific examples of work.
He spoke about the ‘Tikkun ha-Olam’ (Finding Home) artwork by Siona Benjamin. Benjamin shows a self-portrait as a seven-branch Menorah, no doubt a Jewish play on the multi-armed Hindu gods. The candle-holders are hamsas, and the figure dances beside a snake and a sphinx blowing a horn. Benjamin’s Jewish Shiva blends the imagery of the menorah’s arms with the symbolism of Shiva’s arms.
“The opportunities as we move deeper in the 21st century: to think simultaneously in the specific of our specific traditions and subsets of those traditions and of universal principles that recognise how much more we have from wherever we are and however we are in common, than are the things that separate and divide us. That the opportunities are present in art as they are in present in thought and our present in our world regardless where political directions might seem at the moment to be taking us.”