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Rachel Smith

Professor of Art & Gilkison Chair

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art history and criticism interdisciplinary arts and humanities international intercultural studies


  • PhD, Art History, Indiana University
  • MA, Art History, Michigan State University
  • BA, Art History, Michigan State University

Career Highlights

  • Curator and Project Director for several interdisciplinary intercultural art seminars and traveling exhibitions out of Indonesia (2008-2012), South Africa (2013-2018), and China (2018-2023) for the Nagel Institute for the Study of World Christianity.
  • Association of Scholars of Christianity in the History of Art (ASCHA): President 2017-present; Vice President 2010-2017; Organization Co-Founder 2010.
  • 2019 President’s Award: The Boevé Art Education Award, Christians in the Visual Arts (CIVA).
  • 2010 Franklin W. and Joan M. Forman Distinguished Faculty Scholar Award, Taylor University.

Featured Work

Exhibition Catalogues

Matter + Spirit: A Chinese/American Exhibition. Author of lead essay titled “Divining the Spirit in a Secular Age”, editor, and art director. Calvin University, 2020.

Between the Shadow & the Light. Author of lead essay titled “Coloring the Wind In and Out of South Africa”, editor, and art director. Calvin College, 2014.

Charis: Boundary Crossings. Author of lead essay titled “Boundary Crossings: Divining the Human in the Fragments of this World”, editor, and art director. Calvin College, 2009.

Book Chapters and Other Contributions

Chapter: “Rogue Priests: Ritual, Sacrament, and Witness in Contemporary Art” in Religion and Contemporary Art: A Curious Accord, Rachel Hostetter Smith and Ronald R. Bernier, eds., Routledge, 2023.

Chapter: “Marginalia or Eschatological Iconography?: Providence and Plenitude in the Imagery of Abundance at Orvieto Cathedral” in ReVisioning: Critical Methods of Seeing Christianity in the History of Art, James Romaine and Linda Stratford, eds., Cascade Books, Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2014.

Chapter: “Gothic Architecture and ‘The Pure and Naked Seeing of Divine Reality’: Chartres Cathedral” in Art as Spiritual Perception, James Romaine, ed., Crossway Books, 2012.

Contributor: Companion to 20th Century British Poetry, Jim Persoon and Rob Watson, eds. Articles on Cubism, Expressionism, and Post-Impressionism. Facts on File, 2009.

Contributor: Renaissance and Reformations: 1500-1620: An Interdisciplinary Dictionary, Jo Eldridge Carney, ed., Greenwood Press, 2001. Biographical entries on Bandinelli, Caravaggio, and Parmigianino: 30-31, 65-67, 279-80.

Journal Issues

Co-editor with James Romaine of a special double issue of the journal Religion and the Arts on Picturing Paradise in 19th c. British and American Art Religion and the Arts Vol. 22-1-2 (2018).

Co-editor with Joseph Cory of Spring 2014 issue of SEEN titled Unsettled Ground on Africa inspired by R5 Seminar in South Africa and Between the Shadow and the Light exhibition.

Co-editor with Ronald Bernier of a special double issue of the journal Religion and the Arts on Christianity and Latin American Art for 2013 inspired by the 2012 ASCHA symposium. By invitation of journal editors. Volume 18: 1-2 (2014).


I am at Taylor because God clearly called me here. After I had been teaching for a few years in the School of Comparative Arts (now Integrative Arts) at Ohio University, my husband and I began to wonder whether we should move to a Christian college in order to help prepare Christian young people for their work in the world. At just that time, I received a phone call from an old friend from my graduate school days who was on the faculty at Taylor informing me of a new position in art history at Taylor that had just been announced and encouraging me to apply. I did and when we came for the interview, both my husband and I had a very clear sense of God calling us to this place despite the gloom of the March gray weather! I accepted the job and have had it confirmed over and over again that God called me here to do work that could not have been done so readily elsewhere. Taking the Honors freshmen to South Africa and to China for courses in Arts and Ideas in South Africa and in China is but one example of the way that teaching and scholarship have converged through my work at Taylor.


Travel, reading, writing, history, and culture

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