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IFC Explores the Art of Making and Breaking with Artist Bruce Herman

March 13, 2024

When Bruce Herman approaches a painter’s canvas, he spends many hours crafting an image from meticulous, colorful layers of oil and metallic leaf. Then, once it’s perfect, he takes an electric sander to it.

Herman’s process of what he calls “excavating the image” results in an abraded surface that somehow has a much greater capacity to evoke deep beauty, a shared brokenness, and even the love and sacrifice of Christ.

The artist will join King’s Institute for Faith & Culture on Monday, March 25, to present “Beauty in Ruins,” a discussion of art, faith, and the act of making and breaking. Herman will speak twice, once at 9:15 a.m. in King’s Memorial Chapel, and again at 7 p.m. at Central Presbyterian Church in Bristol, Virginia. Thanks to a network of donors, both events are open to the public and free of charge.

“It seems counterintuitive to spend so much time and money on an image and then intentionally deconstruct it, but the roughness creates traction and areas where we can engage,” said Martin Dotterweich, Ph.D., director of the IFC. “It’s difficult to find ourselves in perfect images and surfaces, and Bruce’s process offers a way for us to see more of our own distressed beauty mirrored in his work. We look forward to hearing more about his process and sharing in his vision as he joins us here.”

Herman’s work has been widely published, exhibited, and included in collections such as the Vatican Museum of Modern Religious Art in Rome, the print collection of the Cincinnati Museum of Fine Arts, the Grunewald Print Collection of the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles, the DeCordova Museum in Boston, and many more.

He taught at Gordon College for nearly four decades and is the founding chair of its Art Department. He held the Lothlórien Distinguished Chair in Fine Arts for more than 15 years and continues to curate exhibitions and manage the collection there. He completed his bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Boston University College of Fine Arts under American artists Philip Guston, James Weeks, David Aronson, Reed Kay, and Arthur Polonsky.

Herman also collaborated with Walter Hansen to write the book “Through Your Eyes,” which showcases a 30-year collection of his artwork from the perspective of his most loyal collector.

Since 2007, the King University Institute for Faith & Culture has welcomed widely recognized thinkers, authors, musicians, scholars, and philosophers to interact with students and a regional audience in a welcoming environment that catalyzes growth and understanding. The Institute serves as the standard bearer of the University’s long-time exploration of the liberal arts — in conjunction with King’s mission of equipping students to answer the call of excellence inherent in the Christian faith.