MILLIGAN, Tenn. (Sept. 14, 2023) — Milligan University welcomes Christian artist Dr. He Qi on Thursday, Sept. 21, as the inaugural speaker for the university’s Magness Lectureship on Jesus in the Arts.
Qi’s lecture series, “My Journey of Christian Art,” will begin during the university’s chapel service at 11 a.m. in the Mary B. Martin Auditorium in Seeger Chapel and will also include a lecture titled “Images of Jesus in Asian Christian Art” at 7 p.m. in the McGlothlin-Street Theatre in the Gregory Center. The lectures are free and open to the public.
“It is a real honor for Milligan to be hosting Dr. Qi for the inaugural Jesus in the Arts Lectures, made possible through the generosity of dear Milligan friends Drs. Lee and Pat Magness,” said Milligan President Dr. Bill Greer. “The Magness Lectureship is the perfect way to celebrate their love for the arts, for the church and for Milligan.”
Qi serves as the artist-in-residence at Fuller Theological Seminary. His paintings have been exhibited around the world and are influenced by folk art, Tibetan art, medieval European art and modern art. Qi has developed a unique Chinese idiom, making use of vibrant colors and geometric designs to portray compelling images of Jesus and other biblical figures. He has served as artist-in-residence or visiting professor at Yale Divinity School, Princeton Theological Seminary, Samford University, Wheaton College and the University of Toronto.
Born in Nanjing, China, he grew up in the Cultural Revolution and escaped hard labor by painting propaganda images of Mao Zedong. When he came upon an old art magazine with a print of a painting of Madonna and child, he mysteriously experienced a feeling of peace, having no idea that the painting was connected to Christianity. He continued to paint Mao by day, but at night he began painting the Madonna. Thus began a spiritual journey, culminating in his baptism in 1989.
Qi studied art at Nanjing Normal University, medieval art at the Hamburg Institute of Art in Germany, and eventually received his doctorate from the Nanjing Art College. He was the first person from China to earn a Ph.D. in religious art after the Cultural Revolution.
Jesus in the Arts Lectureship
The Jesus in the Arts Lectureship was established through a generous gift from beloved retired Milligan professors, Drs. Lee and Pat Magness. The lectureship focuses on the person, teachings and ministry of Jesus as reflected on and interpreted through the arts.
Offered every other year, the lectureship is interdisciplinary and recognizes musical, literary, kinetic and visual arts. The lectureship was also founded on the desire to offer the Milligan community the opportunity to encounter artists and artistic expressions from underrepresented ethnic groups.
Drs. Lee and Pat Magness
Drs. Lee and Pat Magness are retired Milligan professors who prominently shaped the university’s biblical studies and humanities programs. Lee, professor emeritus of Bible, served as the Vera Britton Chair of Bible until 2013 when he retired after 30 years in the classroom. Pat, professor emerita of humanities, taught for 28 years and retired in 2012 as the George and Janet Arnold Chair of Humanities.
In addition to his teaching responsibilities, Lee published dozens of articles and authored five books during his time at Milligan, including “Marking the End: Sense and Absence in the Gospel of Mark.” He chaired the Goah Scholarship Committee from 2007-2013, led multiple humanities and alumni tours, and was very engaged with the university’s arts programs and soccer and swim teams.
Pat served as director of developmental studies, professor of English, director of the humanities program and chair of the area of humane learning. She served on and chaired various committees, including the college’s reaccreditation self-study, and led the Buffalo Ramblers Outdoor Club. Pat also came out of retirement to be interim director of the Goah Diversity Scholars Program.
Lee and Pat graduated from Milligan in 1969, where Pat was valedictorian of their class. Lee received his Master of Divinity from Emmanuel Christian Seminary at Milligan and his doctorate from Emory University. Pat earned her master’s degree from Vanderbilt University and a doctorate from Emory University.