The Reformation Art Show at Bethany Lutheran College

William Bukowski (Mankato, Minnesota USA)

Archived discussion

About the presenter

The Art Show host, William Bukowski, Bethany Lutheran College Art Professor, received his M.A. and M.F.A. at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and studied fresco at Academy Caerite, Ceri, Italy. His works have appeared in over 180 exhibitions and include the Life of Christ altarpiece in Bethany’s Trinity Chapel and the Creation Fresco in Meyer Hall of Math and Science. He presented “Martin Luther and the Visual Arts” at the 2015 B.W.Teigen Reformation Lectures. Bukowski has led art tours in Europe, Israel, and Egypt. He and his wife Sherri, married 39 years, have three children (all Bethany graduates) and two grandchildren.

The visual arts have held a precarious position in the Lutheran church since the Reformation. Liturgical art was banned in most Lutheran churches and the patronage of art became primarily secular. Luther never wrote much about art, though he did not support the destruction of images that took place in the early days of the Reformation. Luther did work with his close friend Lucas Cranach to have his writings illustrated and his own portrait exhibited across Europe in prints and paintings. He also appeared in several Cranach altarpieces shortly after he died.

For the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, the Bethany Lutheran College Art Department invited 26 artists, two filmmakers and three writers to celebrate with works of paintings, prints, drawings, photography, ceramics, video and writings. Some of the artists are faculty members at Bethany Lutheran College, Wisconsin Lutheran College, or Martin Luther College. The other artists are alumni from these schools.

An alternate title for the show could be, “Lutherans Make Art”!

This exhibition is on display in the Ylvisaker Fine Arts Center at Bethany Lutheran College in Mankato, Minnesota, from October 1 until November 22, 2017. A gallery talk on “Luther, Vocation and the Arts” is scheduled for October 26, at 7:00 pm. Viewing artwork "in person" is always more satisfying than viewing images on a computer screen. But for those who cannot come to Mankato, we offer the Reformation Art Show as follows.

[ click on any image to enlarge it – then use your computer's "back" button to return to the Art Show ]

Nathan Beilke

A Trusty Shield and Weapon

Anna Biedenbender

See me now

Charis Charmichael Braun


Jeff Bukowski

William Bukowski

click on image to enlarge

Paul Burmeister

Reformation Disegno

Jesse Cordes

The Whisper

Kristin Gjerdset

Millipede In Pink

Annette Hartzell

My Savior

Lance Hartzell

Black on Black

Jason Jaspersen

Not Ashamed

Chad Lindemann

Landscapes Unity

Karyn Lukasek

Portrait of a Hymnwriter

Ben Lundsten

Seminary student reading his Bible

James Matson

Upon This Rock

Jonathan Mayer

But for us fights the Valiant One

Donald Moldstad

Charleston: the Holy City
click on image to enlarge

Eric Ouren


Andrew Overn

It's only fun when it's dangerous, No. 1
click on image to enlarge

Kurt Shrader

Erik Soule

Lutheran Still Life

Joey Steinbach

The Rock, the Rose, the Fortress

Paul Trapp

Shadow City

Alicia Ulm

Isaiah 55: 6-11

Melissa Vandermause

Souls and Beaches

Anne Wendland

our lady

Malia Wiley

Flying Geese

Denice Woller

Peace Steeple

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Tom Kuster (Christ in Media Institute) 2017-10-25 1:35:43pm
Artist Cordes addressed this issue most directly, but all did in some degree: the matter of “artistic truth” which is a reflection of biblical truth, of Jesus as “the Way, the TRUTH, and the Life.” In my discipline I focused on verbal discourse, and there we understood “truth” most basically as a kind of correspondence between verbal formulas (declarative sentences) and the reality to which they referred. But that understanding doesn’t seem to apply to visual art. How is “truth” expressed in paintings, sculpture, photography, video, design – without the need for verbal explanations? When I look at one of these artistic works, how do I recognize that it is “true”? Is its “truth” something I KNOW or is it something I FEEL?
Ryan MacPherson (Bethany Lutheran College) 2017-10-26 9:52:50pm
I just attended the gallery talk for this exhibit at Bethany Lutheran College. Well done, everyone!

I especially would like to bring further attention to "The Whisper," by Jesse Cordes. When viewing this work in person, I noticed some subtle imagery in the concrete pillar: a lion wearing a royal crown, with the Greek title ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ (Christ), and a lamb with the Hebrew title משׁח ("Messiah"). At the base of the concrete pillar is a Bible, which the man is about to pick up to read. That area of the picture is also illuminated by a lamp from above. None of these details catch the eye at first, since the busy hustle and distracting noise of the city traffic commands so much attention. But God is there to speak, whispering through His Word, testifying that Jesus is the Lamb of God, the Lion of Judah, the King of Kings, the Anointed One, Our Savior.
Tom Kuster (Christ in Media Institute) 2017-10-27 12:37:11am
I thank Dr. MacPherson for pointing this out to me in the gallery. I hadn't noticed it, and had to go back to look at the artwork again, and sure enough! Unfortunately this doesn't show up in the reproduction above, even when you enlarge it by clicking on the picture. And it doesn't even appear in the (excellently produced) printed art show catalog. I know that many people reading this cannot physically attend this remarkable Art Show at Bethany Lutheran College in Mankato, Minnesota, but please try to do so if you can. Art is always better in person.
Richard Wiechmann 2017-11-05 10:07:34am
Excellent and exciting even for a non-artistic person like me. It was also very easy for me to find my way around on my computer screen. Thanks to GOWM and also to Tom and Judy Kuster. Well done in all aspects!
Elise Sloey, Colin Dewey, Travis Barcalow (Wisconsin Lutheran College.) 2017-11-06 10:09:31am
The magic of these works is that they say so much without any words at all. I love the huge variety of pieces displayed here. All of them have something unique to offer, and I have such appreciation for the hard work that went into the creation of each. Thank you to all the talented artists! What a wonderful way to praise God, and to demonstrate the power of his Word.
Fallon Yates (Behtnay Luthern College) 2017-11-06 6:15:59pm
I love the art show. Such amazing works from many artist. It is nice to see a gather of many artist from many schools to come together to make something this elaborate and beautiful to celebrate an important moment in history and their beliefs.
Cora M. ( Bethany Lutheran College) 2017-11-08 10:29:56pm
Thank you to all the artists who participated in this show! As a student at Bethany, it has been a real pleasure walking through the YFAC this last month and being reminded of our heritage and the price of those who defended the faith. Many of the art shows we have at Bethany feature just one artist at a time. This show was unique as multiple mediums and styles were all presented together. This type of collaboration showcases the many skills of the artists on display. As an art student, it is always great to see Christian artists out there pursing what they love and glorifying God through their work!
Tessa MacPherson (Bethany Lutheran College) 2017-11-09 5:48:58pm
I really enjoy all of the work of art that these amazing artists have created. It's amazing to see all the different mediums and styles that artists have and are masters of using. As a christian artist myself, it is really inspiring and encouraging to see all the work that people create with the intent of glorifying God.
Isabella Lattery (Bethany Lutheran College) 2017-11-09 10:24:19pm
What an amazing art show to praise God, and commemorate the reformation. I love the variety in the types of art, as it shows how expansive christian art is. The artist are very talented, and very rooted in God providing an extraordinary exhibit.
Josh A (Bethany Lutheran College) 2017-11-11 12:25:01am
Having been blessed with the chance to experience the beauty of different artwork such as sculptures and paintings in churches in various European countries and the Philippines, I hope that the Lutheran church can embrace art as a means to enhance church learning. Also, the artwork I saw in the many churches were simply breathtakingly beautiful. Wouldn't it be great to have a painting of Jesus with the little children on the wall of a Sunday school room? How about the Last Supper painted behind the altar? Or an image showing what heaven may look like painted on a wall to act as a reminder of the gift of eternal life? It would be wonderful.
Emma Hislop (Bethany Lutheran College) 2017-11-13 9:13:53am
This art show was interesting, including a variety of media, topics, and mediums. It was neat to see the artwork by my professors and other Bethany faculty and see what they've been creating. I especially found Andy Overn's "It's Only Fun when it's Dangerous" digital painted picture intriguing as it looks more real than I am used to seeing done digitally and it has such detailed shading in the face, rocks, and trees.

The artwork in this show definitely needs more than one walk through!
William Bukowski (Bethany Lutheran College) 2017-11-13 9:44:40pm
As the organizer of the Lutheran Invitational Art exhibition, I can say that it was very gratifying to hang this show. As all of the artists are in our fellowship, it shows how diverse we are in our own visual culture. My hope is that it will encourage others to develop their gifts and praise God with their artwork. The next generation must continue to produce public art and liturgical art! For those who aren't artists, it is important to appreciate and support the production of a Lutheran art.
Justine Bennett (Bethany Lutheran College ) 2017-11-13 10:12:22pm
I have looked at this art over computer and in person and I think it is all so beautiful. One of the art pieces that caught my eye was "Indecision," by Charis Carmichael Braun. I thought this piece of art work looked very beautiful. I loved the emotions in the figures eyes and the way Mrs. Braun paints her self and her husband, is aspiring and beautiful. I love the abstractness of the background how there are so many colors and other paintings in the painting and even paint on the artist shows how much work it can be, but how beautiful this art work turned out. I thought this showed real life and showed the artists real life perhaps. Last year I went on the BLC New York Art trip with Prof. Bukowski and we actually met up with this artist Charis Carmichael Braun and saw some of her art work in a gallery and it was beautiful. It was nice to see some more of her art work as she has grown into an even more talented artist.