Gordon in the News: last updated 06/24/2013

T. S. Eliot’s Four Quartets Inspires Collaboration and International Tour

By Jo Kadlecek

At a dinner party in New York City four years ago, several artistic friends—including Gordon College art professor Bruce Herman—talked about their mutual appreciation for T. S. Eliot’s masterpiece cycle of poems, The Four Quartets. They discovered some had even committed parts of it to memory. The conversation inspired a massive collaboration project and tour “in paint, poetry and music” in which Herman joined with internationally acclaimed artist Makoto Fujimura, Yale composer Christopher Theofanidis, and Duke professor and pianist Jeremy Begbie.

Following stops at Baylor University, Duke University and Yale University, the QU4RTETS exhibition opened at Gordon April 13. The exhibit was part of Gordon’s week-long Celebration of the Arts. 

Bruce Herman

“This has been a rare opportunity to work with gifted artists who are also friends, in response to one of the twentieth century’s greatest poems,” said Herman, who is also the gallery director and Lothlórien Distinguished Chair in Fine Arts at Gordon. “In our collaboration, we are addressing an old painterly tradition: the four seasons and four stages of life, implicit in Eliot’s poem,” Herman said. “I’ve tried to interact directly with Eliot’s use of the four elements—earth, air, fire and water—to create a set of meditations on death and resurrection while pointing toward a mysterious fifth element (quintessence).”

The QU4RTETS exhibition is at the Billy Graham Center at Wheaton College in Illinois this summer, and will tour elsewhere in the United States from fall 2013 through spring 2014. Exhibitions in Paris and Hong Kong are scheduled for summer and fall 2014.

“The conversation begun that evening continues to bear fruit—in further conversation as well as in the deeper communion of art, music, poetry and time,” Herman said.

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Gordon College is one of the nation's premier Christian colleges and located just north of Boston. We offer students extraordinary access to leading-edge opportunities for intellectual, professional, and leadership development to address the increasingly complex challenges of a global society. Gordon stands apart from other outstanding institutions in New England by combining an exceptional education with an informed Christian faith.