Chagall Lecture by Dr. David Jeffrey

Elizabeth Kerin, Staff Writer

Photo by Elizabeth Kerin.

As a continuation of the 50th anniversary celebration of Nostra Aetate, the University of Dallas will welcome guest lecturer Dr. David Jeffrey of Baylor University to speak this evening in a lecture entitled “Marc Chagall: The Visual Torah.”

Jeffrey, a renowned Chagall scholar and a prolific author, will trace the narrative within the imagery in Chagall’s Biblical prints currently housed in the Haggerty Gallery.

Scott Peck, director of the Beatrice M. Haggerty Gallery and executive director of the Museum of Biblical Art, explained how fitting it is that Jeffrey should be speaking.

“He is the perfect fit because it’s also the title of the [Chagall] show ‘Intersecting Traditions’ and so it’s like all these intersections. You’ve got Baylor, Baptists, UD, Catholics, Marc Chagall. He’s well versed in understanding theology, but then art too, which is perfect as well,” Peck said.

Jeffrey himself is an Anglo-Catholic. In an email, he explained his own religious background, a branch of Anglicanism that worships with a more ancient rite and abides by Holy Scripture and the traditional teaching of the Catholic Church.

Indeed, Jeffrey’s nuanced perspective of the Catholic faith tradition is an integral component of his approach to his lecture.

“Because teaching the great literature, philosophy and art of the Christian West is not possible outside of a grateful understanding of Catholic tradition and teaching, I am blessed to be at a university which, though Baptist, honors that tradition and wishes all of its students, Christian believers or not, to make a meaningful acquaintance with its great texts,” Jeffrey wrote in an email.

“The Jewish legacy is foundational to our common Christian heritage,” Jeffrey wrote. “And therefore I consider it a special privilege to be able to give careful attention to both biblical and contemporary aspects of the Jewish understanding of God and the human person.”

Not only is the lecture a culmination of intersecting traditions, as implied by the show’s title, but Jeffrey’s lecture also promises some theological food for thought, as it coincides with a prominent week of the Roman Catholic liturgical year, on the Wednesday of Holy Week.

In addition to his evening lecture, which will take place at 6 p.m. in the Art History Auditorium, Jeffrey will lead a gallery walk and more casual lecture at 3:30 p.m. in the gallery itself. The afternoon gallery walk presents the student body and faculty with opportunity to speak with Jeffrey and learn in a less formal setting.

“Students can meet him and talk to him during the art walk in the gallery, which is going to be cool,” said Peck, who will attend the gallery walk.

UD art history professor Dr. Catherine Caesar, who will lead the discussion at the gallery walk, praised Jeffrey’s status as one of the world’s leading Chagall scholars. A speaker of Jeffrey’s caliber is indeed rare for UD.

The Jeffrey lecture is the final installation of the university’s efforts to draw the outside Dallas community into the Art Village and has broadened the gallery’s community outreach extensively.

Looking ahead to the lecture, Peck declared with enthusiasm and sincerity: “Every student should be interested in this.”

Hear Dr. Jeffrey’s talk, “Marc Chagall: The Visual Torah,” on Weds. March 23 at 6 p.m. in the Art History Auditorium


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