John Edward Skillen
Professor John Skillen directs the Studio for Art, Faith & History while overseeing Gordon College’s several programs in Europe administered through the Global Education Office.
Dr. Skillen completed his Ph.D. (1982) at Duke University, concentrating in medieval and Renaissance literature. A graduate of Gordon College, Skillen joined the English department of his alma mater in 1983 as the specialist in medieval, Renaissance and 17th Century literature. He served two terms as department chair before being appointed the inaugural chair of the Communication Arts department. After leading a number of Summer Seminars in Italy, Dr. Skillen collaborated with his colleagues in the Art department to create the arts-oriented program in Orvieto, Italy, now in its 30th semester. Dr. Skillen directed the Gordon IN Orvieto program from 1998 to 2009. The program has hosted over 500 students from 25 institutions, and was featured in a volume of Best Practices in Christian study abroad programs entitied Transformations on the Edge of the World (Abilene Christian University Press, 2010).
The Studio for Art, Faith & History was established in 2004 as the wing of the semester program for developing and administering special projects that offered creative contemporary responses to pre-modern traditions in visual art and theater.
Professor Skillen’s essays on the arts and tradition have appeared in IMAGE journal and the journal of Christians in the Visual Arts (CIVA), in the volume dedicated to painter Bruce Herman’s Magnificat triptychs, in Transformations at the Edge of the World, and on the Studio’s website. Essays published on-line include an account of educating “in situ” in Orvieto in Cardus’s Commentary e-journal, and essays for the European ArtWay on the contemporary architect Richard Meier’s Jubilee Church near Rome and on the new interest in the tradition of ekphrasis, or writing poetry about artworks. Several of the papers presented at the conference entitled Eucharist and Eschatology: Art and Theology in the Orvieto Duomo were published with Dr. Skillen’s assistance by the Seminary of Central Italy in the volume Spazi e Immagini dell'Eucaristia: Il Caso di Orvieto (2007). Skillen is completing a book, provisionally titled Putting Art (Back) in its Place, to be published by Hendrickson Publishers.
Professor Skillen lives in Newburyport, MA with his wife Susan, an ordained priest in the Anglican Church of North America and Canon of Spiritual Formation in the Anglican Diocese of New England. Having lived in Orvieto for a number of years, where she established a mission parish in Orvieto for St. Paul’s Within the Walls Episcopal Church in Rome, Rev. Skillen regularly leads retreats in Orvieto focused on the continued relevance for contemporary believers of Saints Benedict and Scholastica, Francis and Claire, and Catherine of Siena – all from the region around Orvieto – including Thomas Aquinas, who lived in Orvieto during the 1260’s. The Skillens have four daughters.