2019 Speakers


Interview with artists Sedrick and Letitia Huckaby with a special focus on family, African-American narratives, and the role their personal expression plays in mediating that history for audiences

CIVA Conf 2019 Instagram5.jpg

Sedrick Huckaby
Huckaby Studio

Sedrick Huckaby began painting quilts as backdrops for portraits. Over time, quilts became the focus—artful messengers telling stories of family, ancestral legacy, and spirituality via draping folds and connected patches. Huckaby's recent series, The 99%, comprises more than 100 lithographic portraits created during a residency at the Brandywine Print Workshop in Philadelphia. As director of the List Gallery at Swarthmore College, Andrea Packard, said, “Huckaby's ongoing series focuses . . . on the process of affirming people who might otherwise remain unseen or unimportant.” Mr. Huckaby is the recipient of numerous awards, and his work is on exhibit in several public collections, including the Whitney Museum of American Art, Boston Museum of Fine Art, Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University, Art Institute of Chicago, Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, the American Embassy in Namibia, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Amon Carter Museum of American Art, and Yale University Art Gallery. Mr. Huckaby teaches at The University of Texas at Arlington and is represented by Valley House Gallery in Dallas. He and his wife Letitia are parents to three creative children:  Rising Sun (13), Halle Lujah (10), and Rhema Rain (2).

CIVA Conf 2019 Instagram4.jpg

Letitia Huckaby
Huckaby Studio

Letitia Huckaby, a photographer at heart, considers her work—focused on faith, family, and legacy—“a time capsule for the African-American experience.” Huckaby starts each piece with an image and progresses from there, pushing the boundaries of photography. Using a traditional practice in an untraditional way, she hopes to create a new visual language. Always looking at how the past relates to the present and whether things have changed or remain the same, Huckaby builds a history into her pieces, whether through process or actual materials, such as heirloom fabrics and the juxtaposition of familiar settings and subjects framed in fresh, unfamiliar ways. Mrs. Huckaby holds a degree in Journalism from the University of Oklahoma, a B.F.A. in photography from the Art Institute of Boston, and a master’s degree from the University of North Texas. She has been privileged to exhibit at the Dallas Contemporary, the Galveston Arts Center, Renaissance Fine Art in Harlem, the McKenna Museum in New Orleans, the Camden Palace Hotel in Cork City, Ireland, and the Texas Biennial at Blue Star Contemporary Art Museum. Her work is also included in several prestigious collections, including the Library of Congress, the Art Museum of Southeast Texas, the Brandywine Workshop in Philadelphia, and the Samella Lewis Contemporary Art Collection at Scripps College in Claremont, California.  Letitia is represented by the Liliana Bloch Gallery in Dallas and the Anzenberger Gallery in Vienna, Austria.


Hawona Sullivan Jazen

Photo credit: AnnMarie Photography

Hawona Sullivan Janzen is a Twin Cities-based curator and multidisciplinary artist and curator for the University of Minnesota's Robert J. Jones Urban Research & Outreach-Engagement Center (UROC) Gallery, and co-founder of  Witness Writing, a free North Minneapolis-based creative writing program, and the chair of Literary Witnesses, a 20-year-old poetry reading series of Plymouth Congregational Church. Her writing has been featured on National Public Radio, in publications by Sister Black Press, Coffee House Press and developed into a jazz opera at the Soap Factory Gallery in Minneapolis. Hawona has curated exhibits on the Black Experience for the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts, Hennepin County, and the Children's Theatre, and received numerous grants from the McKnight Foundation, Metropolitan Regional Arts Council, and the Minnesota State Arts Board.


Artist, curator, and instigator, Nate Young, will interview artists Chris Larson and Rico Gatson about The Raft. Inspired by the controversial classic Huckleberry Finn, this multi-channel video and sound installation depicts the two longtime friends and former classmates playing music for each other from their personal record collections while sitting on a moveable plywood platform

CIVA Conf 2019 Instagram6.jpg

Chris Larson
Chris Larson Studio

Photo by: Daniel del Castillo

Chris Larson is a multi-media artist and an Associate Professor of Art and Director of Undergraduate Studies at the University of Minnesota. Since receiving his B.F.A. from Bethel College and his M.F.A. from Yale University, Larson has received numerous awards including a New Work Project Grant from The Harpo Foundation, a Louis Comfort Tiffany Award and most recently a 2018 McKnight Artist Fellowship and a 2018 Guggenheim Fellowship. He has exhibited nationally and internationally, including solo exhibitions at the Walker Art Center, Katonah Museum of Art, and had work was included in the 2014 Whitney Biennial in NYC. Larson’s work was included in the 11th Bienal do Mercosul in Porto Alegre, Brazil, and he had a solo 10-year survey exhibition at the Contemporary Art Center in Cincinnati, OH. Larson is the publisher of INREVIEW, and he and his wife, Kristine Zulkosky, co-founded Second Shift Studio Space of St. Paul, a nonprofit residency program and gallery serving female creatives.


Rico Gatson

Rico Gatson is a Brooklyn-based artist who received his B.A. from Bethel University and M.F.A. from Yale University. His work addresses identity politics, the history of race, entertainment and spirituality. He has presented solo exhibitions at Pierogi (Brooklyn, NY), Ronald Feldman Fine Arts (New York, NY), Steve Turner Contemporary (Los Angeles, CA), and Exit Art (New York, NY). His works have been included in group exhibitions including The List Visual Arts Center at The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Boston, MA), The Studio Museum in Harlem (New York, NY), The Tang Teaching Museum (Saratoga Springs, NY), The Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía (Madrid, Spain), Prospect.1 New Orleans (New Orleans, LA), Greater New York at MoMA PS 1 (New York, NY), and the Essl Museum (Vienna, Austria), among other national and international institutions. He is represented by Ronald Feldman Fine Art in New York City.

CIVAConf - Instagram_Young2.jpg

Nate Young
Bindery Projects

Nate Young (Minneapolis, MN) received his B.A. from Northwestern College in Minnesota, his M.F.A. from California Institute of the Arts and attended the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture. He is the recipient of the Bush Fellowship for Visual Artists (2010) and the Jerome Fellowship for Emerging Artists. His work has been recently included in exhibitions at the Suburban (Chicago), The Studio Museum in Harlem (New York), the California African American Museum (Los Angeles), the Soap Factory’s Minnesota Biennial (Minneapolis), a two person exhibition at Room East (New York) and a solo exhibition at Monique Meloche (Chicago). Abroad hIs work has been featured at Artissima 2015, an Art Fair In Turin, Italy. 

He is co-founder and director of the artist run exhibition space, The Bindery Projects.


CIVAConf - Instagram_LizVice.jpg

Liz Vice

Liz Vice is a musician best known for her Gospel, soul, and R&B-infused album entitled, “There’s A Light.” Raised in Portland, Oregon, and a recent resident of Brooklyn, New York, Ms. Vice has performed and/ or shared the stage with artists such as Cody Chesnutt, St. Paul and the Broken Bones, The Temptations, Lecrae, Eric Early (of Blitzen Trapper), Josh Garrels, The Wood Brothers, Tunde Baiyewu (Lighthouse Family), Luz Mendoza (Y La Bamba), Eshon Burgundy (Humble Beast), and more. No matter how large the venue, her genuine approach to her artistry and playful interaction with the audience makes everyone feel like they're sitting at home on the couch watching a friend sing their heart out. Having overcome many personal obstacles, Vice credits her adventurous life to not forcing anything. “It’s all about risk, and taking risk is never regretful…well, most of the time.”


Cara Megan Lewis and Linnéa Spransy co-direct a multi-pronged arts entity in Los Angeles that will include an exhibition space (Bridge Projects) and an artist residency program (The WaterTable). These two organizations intend to hospitably conduct conversations which combine the concerns of contemporary art, religion and the long history of both. In this plenary session, Cara and Linnéa will share stories of encouragement and setback as they prepare for their launch in October of this year.  

CIVA Conf 2019 Instagram9.jpg

Linnéa Spransy
Bridge Projects

Photo by: Anja Spransy

Linnéa Spransy's images are generated using rules which are distillations of emergent and chaos theory, the resiliency of natural systems and the metaphysical tension of scientific determinism and free-will. Her work has been exhibited at academic institutions including Princeton University, commercial and non-profit galleries such as White Flag and Rhona Hoffman Gallery. Her collaborations and performances have taken place in NYC, London, and in Dundee, Scotland. She is currently living and working in LA where she co-directs an exhibition space called BridgeProjects.
The name Linnéa is derived from the Latin root for line, which invites speculation that Linnéa Spransy may have had little choice in her vocation or the kind of work she produces. After all, line is her favored tool in satisfying a deep curiosity about the nature of systems and pattern - their diversity, intelligence and disintegration. Having begun her education in a one-room schoolhouse, she finished it at Yale University, with every imaginable form of education in between. Her curiosity about science, philosophy, and ultimate questions opened territory she has been exploring ever since.

CIVA Conf 2019 Instagram7.jpg

Cara Megan Lewis
Bridge Projects

Photo by: Gloria Araya

Cara Megan Lewis is an artist, artist advocate, and curator. Currently based in Los Angeles, she is involved in launching an exhibition space - Bridge Projects - that will open in Fall 2019. Cara began her supporting role in the arts at Fraenkel Gallery in San Francisco in 2002 and was a Director at Rhona Hoffman Gallery in Chicago between 2012-2016. Upon receiving her Master's degree in Curatorial Practice from the California College of the Arts in 2007, Cara co-founded the Kansas City art gallery, Cara and Cabezas Contemporary. During the gallery's four years of operation, Cara developed an exhibition program that explored socio-political themes and fostered a residency program that hosted artists from Central America and the Caribbean. As a practicing artist, Cara collaborates with her husband under the moniker of Díaz Lewis. On Wednesday mornings, you can find her working as a volunteer in the Bonsai Department at Huntington Gardens.


ArtPlace America Executive Director, Jamie Bennett, will interview Joanna Taft and the Revs Babette and Kelly Chatman about their work of “creative placemaking”—artists and arts organizations joining with neighbors and neighborhood organization in shaping their community’s future by working together on place-based community projects.

CIVAConf - Instagram_BChatman.jpg

Babette Chatman
Redeemer Lutheran Church

Rev. Babette Chatman is Associate Pastor at Redeemer Lutheran Church in North Minneapolis and Director of Properties ministries of Redeemer Center for Life, the church’s non profit. She serves on the staff of Augsburg University’s campus ministry as a community collaborative partner and chairs the Mission Table of the Minneapolis Area Synod. She is a graduate of Augsburg University and the Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary TEEM program. Babette has offered distinctive presence, leadership, and service at Redeemer for the past seventeen years. Under her direction, The Redeemer Center for Life's housing ministry has developed into a highly effective and well-regarded model for resident empowerment and community building. Babette anchors the Housing and Transition Program (HAT), mentoring young adults towards healthy, confident adulthood through training in life skills, empowerment, and relationship-building with residents and organizations on a daily basis.

CIVA Conf 2019 Instagram3.jpg

Jamie Bennett
ArtPlace America

Jamie Bennett is the executive director of ArtPlace America, a ten-year fund that supports enlisting artists as allies in building equitable, healthy, and sustainable communities. To date, ArtPlace has invested over $100 million to support projects in rural, suburban, tribal, and urban communities of all sizes across the United States, as well as in sharing knowledge from that work in ways that are both useful and actually used by practitioners.  ArtPlace convenes and connects people who are committed to this work in order to help build a strong and ongoing field of practice. Previously, Jamie worked at the National Endowment for the Arts, the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs, the Agnes Gund Foundation, Columbia University, The Museum of Modern Art, and the New York Philharmonic. He lives, works, worships, and plays in Brooklyn, NY and has been sober since 2009.

CIVA Conf 2019 Instagram8.jpg

Joanna Taft
Harrison Center

Joanna Taft is a cultural entrepreneur who serves as Founding Executive Director of the Harrison Center and Founder and Board Chair Emerita of Herron High School. She is a leader in creative placemaking and cultural development. For these endeavors, Taft has received the Indianapolis Business Journal Women of Influence Award, the Girls Inc. Touchstone Award, Arts Council of Indianapolis ARTI Award, Jefferson Award, and two Cultural Vision awards. She is a graduate of the Stanley K. Lacy Class XXXII, was a 2012 Creative Renewal Fellow, and Covenant College. She also serves as chair of the Marion County Board of Zoning Appeals and on the boards of the Indianapolis Library Foundation and the Katharine B. Sutphin Foundation (President).


Kelly Chatman

Kelly Chatman is senior pastor of Redeemer Lutheran Church and director of Redeemer’s non-profit, Redeemer Center for Life. He also serves as adviser to the Bishop of the Minneapolis Area Synod (ELCA). Redeemer is a 108 year old congregation in the diverse Harrison neighborhood in North Minneapolis. Redeemer’s non-profit includes a bike and coffee shop, youth development, attainable housing and employment programs. Prior to his work at Redeemer, Kelly formerly served as Director for Youth Ministries for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (95-01) and Dean of Residence at Oregon Episcopal School (87-89). Kelly has served numerous college, outdoor ministry, and nonprofit boards; he is a Princeton Theological Seminary Benjamin E. Mays Fellow and a 2006 recipient of the Luther Seminary Race, Church, and Change Award. Kelly is married to the amazing Dr. Cheryl Chatman who is the Executive Vice President and Dean at Concordia University in St. Paul, MN.


Each artist will share about her own discoveries in the studio, and together they’ll discuss how their work explores the questions we’re posing with ARE WE THERE YET, such as the “already but not yet,” women’s role in the contemporary art scene and how it might be changing, the presence of their spirituality in the studio, identity, personal history, and social responsibility, among other themes.


Joyce Lee

Joyce Lee is an artist working with video, digital photography and interactive installation. Her artwork examines how mass media and visual culture shape notions of truth and understanding of the “other.” Her project about Internet censorship, FIREWALL, garnered backlash from Chinese state authorities in 2016 and was presented at Lincoln Center in NYC and the Oslo Freedom Forum in Norway. She has exhibited internationally and been written about in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Huffington Post, Hong Kong Free Press, Hyperallergic and ArtCritical. Her work has been supported by Lower Manhattan Cultural Council; Asian Women Giving Circle; Franklin Furnace Fund; Maryland State Arts Council; The Walters Art Museum; and she received fellowships at the Vermont Studio Center supported by the Joan Mitchell Foundation and Hamiltonian Artists. She is based in NYC and teaches as an Assistant Professor of Art & Digital Media at Marist College.

CIVA Conf 2019 Instagram10.jpg

Caroline Kent
University of Illinois - Chicago

Caroline Kent is a Chicago based visual artist that explores the relationship between language, translation and abstraction through her expanded painting practice. Kent speculates in both the potential and the limitations of language, and ultimately questions the modernist canon of abstraction. Working from paper to canvas and spanning from sculpture to performance, Kent asserts that painting is not a means to an end but a medium through which one can freely consider how producing new images in the world can potentially operate. Caroline Kent studied at Illinois State University for her undergraduate degree in art (1998) and attended the University of Minnesota for her Masters of Fine Art (2008). Kent has exhibited nationally at The Flag Art Foundation, NY, Jenkins Johnson Gallery, NY, The California African American Museum, LA, The Suburban, Chicago, Company Projects, Minneapolis and The Union for Contemporary Art, Omaha. Most recently she was included in Out of Easy Reach, an exhibition highlighting the contemporary and conceptual expansion of abstraction by American, female-identifying artists from the Black and Latina Diasporas. Kent has received grants from the McKnight Foundation, The Pollock Krasner Foundation and The Jerome Foundation. In 2018, she was a fellow at Paint School, a New York based program of Shandaken Projects. Last year she was also invited as a guest visiting artist to Ox-bow, an artist residency program in Saugatuk, MI. Kent currently teaches at The University of Illinois at Chicago and resides in the city.

CIVAConf - Instagram_Wendland.jpg

Lyz Wendland
Augsburg University

Lyz Wendland is a visual artist living and working in Stillwater, Minnesota. She received her MFA from The Minneapolis College of Art and Design and her BFA in drawing, painting and art history from Minnesota State University, Mankato. Her work has been exhibited nationally in galleries such as the Plains Art Museum in Fargo, ND and The Berkeley Art Center in Berkeley, CA. Lyz has been the recipient of a Jerome Foundation Project Grant through the Textile Center (2009) and a Minnesota State Arts Board Artist Initiative Grant (2016). She has received numerous faculty development grants and awards for her research on improving participation, critical thinking and motivation relating to art critiques in studio courses. Currently, Lyz is Assistant Professor of Art at Augsburg University in Minneapolis, Minnesota teaching drawing, painting and design.

CIVAConf - Instagram_Carpenter.jpg

Betsy Carpenter
University of Minnesota

Betsy Carpenter is a lecturer in the University of Minnesota Department of Art, where she recently curated The Form Will Find Its Way: Contemporary Ceramic Sculptural Abstraction (2019) and also serves as curatorial team leader for the Minnesota Museum of American Art’s reopening of their permanent collection exhibition in 2020. Carpenter  was art curator at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis from 2001-2013, after having served on the Guggenheim Museum curatorial team and as guest curator and catalog editor for the Minneapolis Institute of Art. Carpenter holds a B.A. in English from the University of Wisconsin – Madison, an M.A. in Art History from the University of Minnesota, and an M.Phil. in Art History from the City University of New York Graduate Center.

CIVAConf - Instagram_AHamilton.jpg

Amanda Hamilton
Bethel University

Amanda Hamilton lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and is currently professor of art at Bethel University in St. Paul. Hamilton received her B.S. in drawing and painting from Biola University in La Mirada, California, and her M.F.A. in painting from Claremont Graduate University, Claremont, California. She has exhibited throughout the United States, including Hemingway Visual Arts Center at Boise State University, Cornell University, and Soo Visual Arts Center in Minneapolis. Hamilton has received support for her work from the NEA, Idaho Arts Commission, and Boise Arts Commission and attended several artist residencies, including Vermont Studio Center.

CIVA Conf 2019 Instagram0.jpg

Catherine Prescott

Catherine Prescott is a portrait artist and educator whose work has been commissioned and exhibited across the country. Prescott was recently honored to have been one of the nine artists invited by Principle Gallery to exhibit portraits of the Charleston Nine. She was also privileged in 2018 to be commissioned to paint Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett’s official portrait. The recipient of multiple prestigious awards, Prescott has had her art and writing featured in The Huffington Post, Image Journal, CIVA Seen, American Arts Quarterly, The Art of The Portrait, and American Art Collector and was most recently honored with one-person shows at North Park University and Long Island Academy of Fine Art. Her work can also be found in public collections at the governor’s offices of the Pennsylvania State Capitol, The State Museum of Pennsylvania, Messiah College, Fulton Bank in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and York College. Prescott taught painting and drawing for 20 years at Messiah College in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, where she and her husband still live and work.


Vito Aiuto of the band The Welcome Wagon will offer a theological reflection on ARE WE THERE YET. Through his talk he will recount his personal experience of the more recent convergence of religion and art and how it has affected his own art-making and pastoral work with artists of faith.


Vito Aiuto

Vito Aiuto Since graduating from Princeton Theological Seminary in 1998, Vito has worked in a variety of ministries in New York City, including serving as the pastor of Resurrection Williamsburg for the past 14 years. He has written numerous essays that address the intersection of art and the Christian faith, and is also the author of a book of poems, Self-Portrait as Jerry Quarry (New Issues Press).

Vito and and his wife Monique Aiuto make up the Welcome Wagon—a married couple, and a band who execute a genre of gospel music that is refreshingly plain. Their hymns are  melodic takes on a vast history of sacred song traditions, delivered with the simple desire to know their Maker—and to know each other—more intimately.



Wayne Roosa

Wayne Roosa is Professor of Art History and Department Chair at Bethel University, St. Paul, Minnesota, and formerly Chair of the New York Center for Art and Media Studies in New York City. Roosa earned a B.A. and B.F.A. at the University of Colorado and a Ph.D. at Rutgers University. His essays on American painter Stuart Davis have been published internationally. He has served as juror for the National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Grants as well as for the Minnesota State Arts Board. Roosa was an Andrew Mellon Research Fellow at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and a National Endowment for the Humanities grant recipient for work on Stuart Davis at Harvard University. His paintings have been shown in Minneapolis at the Traffic Zone Gallery, Gallery 308, Form + Content Gallery, and at First Things Gallery in New York City.



Marilyn McEntyre

Marilyn McEntyre has written 18 books, edited two, and published in a variety of journals on connections between literature, medicine, faith, art, and environmental studies. Her books include three collections of poems on Dutch painters, and she has enjoyed teaching courses on ekphrastic poetry and “Portraiture and Personhood in Literature and Art.” Her most recent book is When Poets Pray (Eerdmans, 2019). After years of undergraduate teaching, including twelve at Westmont College, McEntyre now speaks, leads retreats and workshops, and teaches occasional courses at UC Berkeley and the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley.



Joe Ananais

Joe Ananais is Associate Director of the Anglican Episcopal House of Studies at Duke Divinity School, where he shares in teaching and training students for a variety of lay and ordained ministries. He also serves as Associate Director of Worship at Holy Trinity Anglican Church in Raleigh, North Carolina, where he shares in the planning and leadership of music and liturgy. Ordained in the Anglican Church, Joe previously served as Associate Rector of Christ Church, Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina, and was educated at Moody Bible Institute and Duke Divinity School.


Wen Reagan

Wen Reagan is Visiting Assistant Professor of Music and Worship at Samford University, where he teaches courses on church music, worship leadership, and the theology and history of worship. He also serves as Associate Director for the Center for Worship and the Arts. Wen holds a B.A. in History and Religion, an M.T.S., and a Ph.D. in American Christianity from Duke University, where he also served as adjunct professor prior to coming to Samford. A seasoned worship leader and accomplished singer-songwriter, Reagan is a contributor to Cardiphonia, a national network of worship songwriters, and has released several albums and a dozen singles over the last decade.