The Rubem Alves Award for Theopoetics
Named in honor of the Brazilian educator, theologian, and author, the Rubem Alves Award for Theopoetics is given by ARC to acknowledge the contributions of an emerging thinker, scholar, artist, and/or activist whose work reflects a commitment to the role of imagination and the arts in theological or religious reflection. Particular interest is given to those nominees whose work has had significant engagement with education, youth, and/or the importance of bodies and embodiment. Successful nominees will demonstrate a commitment to a specific community in which they have encouraged growth and spiritual nourishment associated with creative practices aimed at liberation, solidarity, and freedom.
This award has been directly and decidedly established in the wake of Alves’s life and influence. Applicants unfamiliar with his work may wish to consult his book The Poet, The Warrior, The Prophet or Callid Keefe-Perry’s chapter on Alves from Way to Water for additional insight into his trajectory and contributions.
Nominees do not need to identify as members of a particular religious tradition to be eligible for consideration: successful applicants simply must reflect on how the nominee’s work is resonant with the vision and goals stated above and then submit an articulation of that understanding via an email sent to Award@ArtsReligionCulture.org between April 1st and September 1st each year. Individuals may nominate others or themselves.
The style and/or genre of the application is entirely at the discretion of the applicant, however the format of the application should be one of the following (If audio or video please do not attach the file, but upload it and send a link in the email):
2 pages of text | a 5 minute video | a 5 minute audio recording
Be bold. Assume this award is right to apply for and apply accordingly. Applicants may nominate themselves or others. In November of each year the Award Selection Committee will announce the award recipient who will receive:
Travel to and from the next Theopoetics Conference.
Room and Board at the conference
An award honorarium
The opportunity to use 45-60 minutes as desired on Saturday night of the event as a special guest of ARC, with the whole of the conference in attendance for a talk, performance, or multi-media presentation.
Questions about the award and/or the award process should be sent to Award@ArtsReligionCulture.org with the subject line "Question."
The 2019 recipient is Carolina Hinojosa-Cisneros, a Tejana poeta, Chicana, and Mujerista from San Antonio, Texas. Her work centers on storytelling and faith and has appeared in On Being, Sojourners, Acentos Review, The Rumpus, and others. She is the poetry co-editor of The Journal of Latina Critical Feminism and poetry editor of The Thing Itself. A graduate student in the English program at Our Lady of the Lake University, she is in pursuit of an MA in English with emphases in literature, creative writing, and social justice. Her recent chapbook, Becoming Coztototl is an invitation to witness and heal through poems which invoke our antepasados and root us in the language of family and home. A poet and community-builder whose large project is "a decolonial reimagining of theopoetics in the academy as a liberatory praxis," Hinojosa-Cisneros shares that she is only able to do what she does because of her ties to community. She is "grateful to the many women and men who came before her who have done the work of theopoetics although it had not yet been named."
The 2018 recipient is Yohana Junker, a visual artist whose work has been shown in exhibitions in the American Midwest as well as in South America. She describes her abstract work as an invitation for viewers and pilgrims to reflect on their journeys by means of color, movement, and visual experience. She emphasizes the ways in which art can transform how we understand each other and God, believing that art can awaken a sense of wonder, awe, and an increased capacity for concern. Also a doctoral student in Art & Religion at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, Junker's current work "investigates the Land Art of the Southwest of the United States, taking a look at how cultural, artistic, and religious histories converge on a land that has been both construed as sacred by indigenous peoples as well as damaged by planetary change." A long-time student of Alves' work, Junker affirms that art not only "provides a place to bring people together to fashion experiences," but is also an opportunity "to forge strategic plans for change."
The 2017 recipient of the inaugural Award is Tevyn East of Holy Fool Arts. East's work includes "Leaps and Bounds," a one woman show about the intersections of faith, ecology, and our economic systems; the Carnival de Resistance, an arts-based touring eco-village demonstration project and education and outreach initiative that produces annual residencies in different parts of the United States; and the creation of Holy Fool Arts, East's organization that "seeks to speak prophetically to the failings of our current economic and ecological paradigm and call all into the emerging paradigm of sufficiency and solidarity, cooperation and creative embodiment."