The Aquinas Center at Candler School of Theology will celebrate the life and works of artist John August Swanson with two in-person events in October. A Major Catholic Speaker lecture featuring scholar Cecilia González-Andrieu will be held on Wednesday, Oct. 19, at 7:00 p.m. A panel discussion on Swanson’s art will follow on Thursday, Oct. 20, at 12:00 p.m. The events are free, with registration required, and are part of Candler’s programming in recognition of National Hispanic Heritage Month.

A renowned artist of Mexican and Swedish descent, Swanson—who died in 2021—was admired especially for his work with serigraphs, a screen-printing technique where each color in a piece is printed individually onto the serigraph edition from a separate silkscreen. Many of his works are narrative and communicate biblical stories and themes of human culture and values as well as social justice and spiritual discovery.

Swanson’s work has been displayed in the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, the Art Institute of Chicago, London’s Tate galleries, the Vatican Museums’ Collection of Modern Religious Art, and the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris, among others. Candler holds the largest open collection of Swanson’s art, with over 60 works on public display.

Learn more and register for the events:

October 19: “Journey into the Mysterious Unity of Things with the Art of John August Swanson”

7:00 p.m. | Cannon Chapel | Register here

In this Major Catholic Speaker lecture, Cecilia González-Andrieu will interlace theological aesthetics and Latina/o/x theological thought. She will explore the theological depth of Swanson’s art and guide the audience to experience how the arts invite us past chaos and impossibility into imaginative gratitude and ethically infused action.

A dessert reception and a book signing of González-Andrieu’s Bridge to Wonder: Art as a Gospel of Beauty (Baylor University Press, 2012) will follow the lecture.

González-Andrieu is professor of theology and theological aesthetics at Loyola Marymount University. In her work, she explores systematic theology, theological aesthetics, and political theology from the particularity of the Latinx experience. She is the author of Bridge to Wonder and co-editor of Teaching Global Theologies: Power and Praxis (Baylor, 2015). She has written and published scholarly articles on theological aesthetics, Latinx theology, the theology of Pope Francis, and educational justice, while also writing on immigration, education, and current political concerns as a contributing writer for America magazine.

The Aquinas Center is hosting this event in partnership with Candler School of Theology and Commonweal magazine.

October 20: “The Art of John August Swanson”

12:00 p.m. | Pitts Theology Library, Room 360 | Register here

This panel discussion will explore the dynamic facets of Swanson’s art, and select items from Candler’s John August Swanson collection will be available for viewing. Lunch will be provided for those who register. 

Antonio Alonso, assistant professor of theology and culture, will facilitate the discussion. Panelists include:

  • Cecilia González-Andrieu, professor of theology and theological aesthetics at Loyola Marymount University, addressing Swanson as a Latino theologian and revealing how he interwove his personal story into his art.
  • Brandon Wason, head of special collections, speaking on the process, construction, and different media found in Swanson’s art.
  • Don Saliers, theologian-in-residence, sharing insights into the musicality found in Swanson’s art and his relationship with music.

Top photo: John August Swanson speaks about his work at Candler in 2017.