On View February 14 – June 30, 2019

Exhibition Hours:
Monday – Saturday
9 am – 5 pm

Limited access 9 am – 12:30 pm
Full access 12:30 – 2:30 pm
Limited access 2:30 – 5 pm

Calendar of Events

The Value of Sanctuary

Beginning with the historic framework of the Cathedral as a site of welcome and refuge, this multidisciplinary exhibition explores the question of sanctuary through the work of modern and contemporary artists. Using the Cathedral’s sacred space as a canvas, these works illuminate the intersections between spiritual and social identity, and the ways in which personhood and community cohesion speak to and are formed by notions of dignity, inclusion, and exclusion.

The Preamble to the Constitution of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, chartered in 1873 as the church of the Episcopal Diocese of New York, describes the Cathedral as a “house of prayer for the use of all people.” In the almost 150 years since the signing of that charter, notions of community, of inclusion, of sanctuary have persisted as frequent topics of discussion and dissent. The current political discourse about national borders and identity, about human rights and their application in an often unpredictable world, has only made these discussions more urgent.

The Value of Sanctuary reaches back to the Cathedral’s founding and forward into the most pressing issues of the 21st century. The works in the exhibition and their placement within the Cathedral context raise many questions on the path to encompassing many definitions: What does it mean to be a house of welcome and of refuge, to offer sanctuary to those in need? What are the threads connecting us, as individuals and as communities? And where do we draw the line?

Exhibition Map

Cathedral Connections

In addition to regularly organizing large-scale exhibitions, the Cathedral contains a wide-ranging collection of artwork on permanent and rotating view.


During the exhibition, the Cathedral will add to its already robust programming schedule with events that traverse many of the themes raised by the art in the exhibition. A full list of programs can be found on the calendar.


Meet the Artists: Rania Matar




Both acclaimed artists in their own rights, Barboza-Gubo and Mroczek have collaborated since 2015. Their work focuses on themes of masculinity, sexuality, gender identity, and the effects of patriarchy as a social system, with a particular focus on gay and transgender rights in Peru. Their work has been featured on Artsy, PRI’s The World, The Huffington Post, The Advocate, The Houston Press, El Comercio (Peru), Lenscratch, among others.


Alexandra Bell is a Brooklyn-based multidisciplinary artist who investigates the complexities of narrative, information consumption, and perception. Using various media, she deconstructs language and imagery to explore the tension between marginal experiences and dominant histories. Through investigative research, she considers the ways media frameworks construct memory and inform discursive practices around race, politics, and culture. Her work has been exhibited at MoMA PS1, We Buy Gold, Koenig & Clinton Gallery, The Nathan Cummings Foundation, Atlanta Contemporary, Pomona College Museum of Art, Spencer Museum of Art, and Usdan Gallery at Bennington College.


Richard Blanco is a historic presidential inaugural poet, public speaker, teacher, and memoirist. Jacob Bond Hessler is a contemporary fine art photographer known for his expansive and meditative landscapes. In 2017, Blanco and Hessler released Boundaries, a limited-edition fine-press book of photographs and poetry (Two Ponds Press). The original photographs and poems from Boundaries have been exhibited at Coral Gables Museum, Center for Maine Contemporary Art, and the Ogunquit Museum of American Art.


Louise Bourgeois (1911-2010) was born in Paris, where she lived and studied before moving to New York in 1938. Bourgeois is best known for her work with sculpture, painting, and printmaking, which explores a variety of themes including gender, sexuality, domesticity, grief, and the subconscious. Throughout the 1940s and 1950s, Bourgeois’ work was presented with Abstract Expressionist artists, including Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, and Willem de Kooning, and her work continues to be highly acclaimed and widely exhibited.


Francis Cape apprenticed with master carver Dick Reid before receiving his MFA from Goldsmiths College, London. He currently lives and works in the Upper Delaware Valley and in New York City. Cape’s work with architecture and the inseparability of art from its content led him to research social idealism and, in turn, develop into the Utopian Benches project. Capes work has been shown at Prospect.1 New Orleans; the Saint Louis Art Museum; MoMA PS1; The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum; and the Public Art Fund in New York.


Cassils is a visual artist working in live performance, film, sound, sculpture, and photography. Drawing on conceptualism, feminism, body art, and gay male aesthetics, Cassils forges a series of powerfully trained bodies for different performative purposes. Cassils has achieved international recognition for a rigorous engagement with the body as a form of social sculpture.


Jules de Balincourt was born in Paris and now lives and works in Brooklyn. De Balincourt is known for his colorful and mysterious paintings, which explore utopia and dystopia through depictions of landscapes, communities, popular culture, politics, and abstract elements. His work has been exhibited at prominent galleries and museums around the world, including recent solo exhibitions in the United States, Canada, Hong Kong, Japan, and throughout Europe.


Anthony Discenza is an interdisciplinary artist and writer currently based in Massachusetts and New York. Discenza’s work explores themes such as time, history, collective memory, technology, and documentation. He has participated in numerous solo and group exhibitions, and his recent writing work includes the book A Series of Minor Defeats Hinting at Greater Cruelties (KADIST, 2017) and essays published through the Wattis Institute.


The paintings of iconographer Mark Duke live at the intersection of jazz, visual art, and spirituality. Reverend Dukes serves as a deacon at the St. John Coltrane African Orthodox Church in San Francisco. He is an aspiring poet and writer.


Alicia Eggert is an interdisciplinary artist whose work focuses on the relationship between language, image, and time. Eggert’s work has been exhibited at notable institutions nationally and internationally, and she is currently an Assistant Professor of Studio Art and the Sculpture Program Coordinator at the University of North Texas in Denton. Safwat Saleem is a graphic designer, artist, and filmmaker who works on a variety of multi-media art projects. Saleem is a creative director at Arizona State University, one of the largest American public universities.

The Future is made in collaboration with Fine Acts, a global platform for socially engaged art.


Born and raised in Brooklyn, photographer and visual artist Nona Faustine is a graduate of the School of Visual Arts and the International Center of Photography at Bard College M.F.A. program. Her work focuses on history, identity, representation, and what it means to be a woman in the 21st century. Selections from her photography series White Shoes was featured in the Cathedral exhibition The Christa Project: Manifesting Divine Bodies (2016-17).


Fredericka Foster is a painter and photographer with a studio in New York City. Born in Seattle, she earned a B.A. from the University of Washington and studied and taught at the Factory of Visual Arts. Her work has been exhibited internationally and is in many private and public collections. Foster guest-curated The Value of Water at the Cathedral in 2011, and her work has been featured in numerous Cathedral exhibitions.


LaToya Ruby Frazier was born in Braddock, PA, the hometown that she has extensively documented in her oeuvre. Frazier works in photography, video, and performance to build visual archives that address industrialism, rustbelt revitalization, environmental justice, healthcare inequity, family, and communal history. The photograph Home on Braddock Avenue was included in her first book The Notion of Family (Aperture 2014), which received the International Center for Photography Infinity Award. Her work has been exhibited widely in the United States and internationally, including notable solo exhibitions at Brooklyn Museum; Seattle Art Museum; Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston; and Contemporary Arts Museum Houston.


Nicholas Galanin lives and works with his family in Sitka, Alaska, and much of work his relates to his Tlingit and Unangax (Aleut) ancestry. Galanin’s work offers perspective rooted in connection to land and an intentionally broad engagement with contemporary culture. For over a decade, he has been embedding incisive observation into his work, investigating and expanding intersections of culture and concept in form, image. and sound. Galanin’s multi-disciplinary practice is expansive and includes numerous collaborations with visual and recording artists. He is a member of two artist collectives: Black Constellation and Winter Count.


Eric Gottesman is an artist who makes images and social interventions that address themes of nationalism, migration, conflict, structural violence, colonialism, and intimate relations. Frequently engaging communities in critical self-expression, Gottesman’s projects have been shown at health conferences, in government buildings, on indigenous reserves, and in public space as well as at museums like MoMA/PS1, MFA Boston, the Cornell Museum of Fine Arts, Houston Center of Photography, MoCA Cleveland, and the Addison Gallery of American Art. Sudden Flowers, his decade-long collaborative project in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, resulted in temporary street installations and a collective monograph. Gottesman is a Creative Capital Artist, a Fulbright Fellow, an Artadia awardee, and a co-founder of For Freedoms, an initiative for art and civic engagement that won the 2017 Infinity Award. His translation of Ethiopian writer Baalu Girma’s banned novel Oromaye was published in Hayden’s Ferry Review. He is an Assistant Professor of Art at SUNY-Purchase College.


Lewis W. Hine (1874-1940) was a pioneering social photographer known for his documentation of immigrants coming through Ellis Island in the early twentieth century. Born in Wisconsin, Hine came to New York to teach at the Ethical Cultural School, where he began to use photography as an educational tool in his classes. The Russell Sage Foundation asked Hine in his final years to create a systemic, definitive collection of his life work for the New York Public Library. All of the photographs were transferred in the late 1980s to the Photography Collection of the Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs.


Juliana Huxtable is an artist, writer, performer, DJ, and member of the New York City-based House of Ladosha. Born in Houston, TX, Huxtable’s work explores the intersections and permutations of racial, cultural, and gender identity through histories of the body in a post- Internet age. She is the author of two books, Mucus in My Pineal Gland (2017) and Life (2017, with Hannah Black). Huxtable presented work as part of the 2015 New Museum Triennial and Performa 15 Biennial, and has exhibited and performed at many venues, including Reena Spaulings Fine Art, Project Native Informant, Artists Space, the Museum of Modern Art, Portland Institute of Contemporary Arts, and Institute of Contemporary Arts, London.


Jenny Holzer uses a wide array of media to present her astringent ideas, arguments, and sorrows in public places and international exhibitions. Her practice has rivaled ignorance and violence with humor, kindness, and courage. Holzer received the Leone d’Oro at the Venice Biennale in 1990, the World Economic Forum’s Crystal Award in 1996, and the Barnard Medal of Distinction in 2011. She holds honorary degrees from Williams College, the Rhode Island School of Design, The New School, and Smith College. She lives and works in New York.


ICY and SOT are artists and brothers from Tabriz, Iran, who currently reside in Brooklyn, New York. They have contributed to Iranian and international urban art culture through their murals, interventions, videos, and installations that depict human rights, capitalism, ecological justice, social, and political issues. Their work appears on walls and galleries around the world, including Iran, the United States, Germany, China, and Norway. They transcend their histories of artistic and political censorship by using public art to envision a world freed from borders, war, and violence.


Corita Kent (1918–1986) was an artist, educator, and advocate for social justice. At age 18 she entered the religious order Immaculate Heart of Mary, and in 1968 she left the order and moved to Boston. Her work evolved from figurative and religious to incorporating advertising images and slogans, popular song lyrics, biblical verses, and literature. Throughout the ‘60s, her work became increasingly political, urging viewers to consider poverty, racism, and injustice. At the time of her death, she had created almost 800 serigraph editions, thousands of watercolors, and innumerable public and private commissions.


Baseera Khan is a New York-based artist whose work shares experiences of exile and kinship shaped by economic, pop cultural, and political situations. She mixes consumerism with spirituality and treats decolonial histories, practices, and archives as geographies of the future. Khan has exhibited work around the country, and her recent solo exhibition iamuslima has been installed at the Participant Inc. Gallery in New York, Moudy Gallery at Texas Christian University, and the Fine Arts Center of Colorado College.


Adam Kuby grew up in Philadelphia, PA, and currently lives and works in Portland, OR. His site-specific installations are collaborations with the built and unbuilt world that foster a sense of connectedness in an increasingly fractured environment. Each site offers the chance to explore how human and non-human ecologies can better coexist, or at least come into closer dialogue. Kuby has studied and worked in landscape architecture, sculpture, urban forestry, zoo habitat design, and landscape restoration, and he has held numerous artist residencies in recent years.


With a career spanning almost half a century, Robert Longo is well known for works that draw upon art history to chronicle current affairs. In recent years, his work has explored the impact of events such as the Occupy Wall Street movement, the Paris Charlie Hebdo shooting, and Black Lives Matter protests. Throughout his career, Longo has participated in numerous solo and group exhibitions. He currently lives and works in New York City.


Rania Matar is a Lebanese-born American photographer whose work focuses on women and girls and draws from her cross-cultural experience. Her award-winning work has been exhibited widely in the United States and internationally, and she has been featured in numerous publications. Matar began her teaching career in 2009 when she offered summer photography workshops to teenage girls in Lebanon’s Palestinian refugee camps with the assistance of non-governmental organizations. Matar now teaches photography at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design and participates in programs at museums, galleries, schools, and colleges around the world.


Susan Meiselas works as a photographer, editor, and film director. She is best known for her coverage of the insurrection in Nicaragua and her extensive documentation of human rights issues in Latin America. She published her second monograph, Nicaragua, June 1978–July 1979, in 1981. Meiselas has had one-woman exhibitions in Paris, Madrid, Amsterdam, London, Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York, and her work is included in collections around the world.


Paola Mendoza is an accomplished film director, artist, activist, and author. A co-founder of The Women’s March, she served as its Artistic Director and co-authored the New York Times best seller Together We Rise: Behind the Scenes at the Protest Heard Around the World. Kisha Bari is an award-winning photographer who is passionate about capturing people through portraiture and visual storytelling with a focus on civil rights and humanitarian issues. She has worked with a range of subjects, from America’s union workers to Native American leaders, and from world-renowned ballet dancers to rockstars. Kisha was featured three times in solo exhibitions at Photoville in New York City and her work has been published by numerous media outlets including The New York Times, The Washington Post, Rolling Stone, NPR and Cosmopolitan Magazine.


John Moore is a senior staff special correspondent for Getty Images, currently based in New York City. Moore has been honored four times by World Press Photo for both domestic and international work. He was part of the Associated Press team that won the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for Breaking News Photography for coverage of the war in Iraq and, as a Getty staffer, was a finalist for the 2012 Pulitzer for Breaking News Photography for his coverage of the Arab Spring. Since 2010 he has also focused on immigration issues throughout the United States. His book Undocumented was released in 2018.


Christopher Myers is an artist and writer who lives in New York. While he is widely acclaimed for his work with literature for young people, he is also an accomplished fine artist who has lectured and exhibited internationally. His practice can be divided into two categories, interventions in historical narratives and work crafted with artisans from around the globe from places as disparate as Egypt, Vietnam, Indonesia, and Brooklyn.


Raised in Japan and based in New York since 1976, Eiko Otake is well known for her 40-year partnership with Koma Otake, with whom she has performed worldwide and received many prominent awards and fellowship. Since 2014 she has been working on an unfolding solo project, A Body in Places. As an Artist in Residence, Otake co-curated The Christa Project at the Cathedral in 2016-2017, and she continues to give performances in the Cathedral.


Born in Kranj, Slovenia, Eva Petric currently lives between New York City; Vienna, Austria; and Ljubljana, Slovenia, and works in photography, video, sound, installation, performance, and writing. Her use of varied media reflects her traveling between geographical locations as well as conceptual spaces, and this attention to space and movement characterizes her work overall. Petric has participated in numerous solo and group exhibitions around the world.


Michael Rakowitz is an artist living and working in Chicago, where he is Professor of Art Theory and Practice at Northwestern University. In 1998 he initiated paraSITE, an ongoing project in which the artist custom builds inflatable shelters for homeless people that attach to the exterior outtake vents of a building’s heating, ventilation, or air conditioning system. His work has appeared in venues worldwide, and he has had solo exhibitions at Tate Modern in London, Lombard Freid Gallery in New York, Alberto Peola Arte Contemporanea in Torino, and Kunstraum Innsbruck.


Ronald Rael and Virginia San Fratello are artists, designers, architects, and educators. Rael is a professor at the University of California Berkeley, where he holds the Eva Li Memorial Chair, and San Fratelo is an associate professor in design at San José State University. Their joint practice Rael San Fratello is a multidisciplinary studio engaging topics that shape the contemporary environment by exploring material traditions and craft. Their work has been included in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum.


Before becoming a documentary photographer and photojournalist, Cinthya Santos-Briones studied anthropology and ethnohistory, which led her to work as a researcher in different institutions in Mexico with a focus on the study of indigenous and rural communities. Her work has been influenced by the struggle for human rights, focusing on issues of migration, gender, and identity. Her images explore the relationship between space, memory, time and culture.


Kiki Smith is a highly acclaimed American artist whose work is in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan Museum, the Whitney Museum, the Fogg Art Museum, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Tate Museum, and many more around the world. Her awards and honors include the International Sculpture Center 2016 Lifetime Achievement Award, the U.S. State Department Medal of Arts given by Hillary Clinton (2012), and the Brooklyn Museum’s 2009 Women in the Arts Ward. Smith’s work explores the human condition, from networks of muscles and nerves to our relationships with plant and animal life. Her sculptures, drawings, prints, and installations explore themes of birth, death, suffering, silence, and incarnation.


Hank Willis Thomas is a conceptual artist working primarily with themes related to perspective, identity, commodity, media, and popular culture. His work is included in numerous public collections including the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, and the Whitney Museum of American Art, among others. Thomas is a recipient of the Guggenheim Fellowship (2018), the AIMIA | AGO Photography Prize (2017), the Soros Equality Fellowship (2017), and is a member of the New York City Public Design Commission.


Tomas van Houtryve is a conceptual artist, photographer, and author whose major works interweave investigative journalism, philosophy and metaphor. Van Houtryve makes images using a wide range of processes, ranging from 19th century wet plate collodion to thermal imaging and augmented reality. His projects challenge our notions of identity, memory and power, often by highlighting the slippage of wartime structures into everyday life.


Alisha Wormsley is based in Pittsburgh, PA, and her interdisciplinary work is about collective memory and the synchronicity of seemingly distinct time periods. She uses photography, video, sculpture, and sound to deconstruct accepted realities in order to recreate new conceptual mythologies. In 2018, Wormsley collaborated with The Last Billboard, an outdoor art project founded and curated by Jon Rubin, who each month invited a different artist to display messages on a large-scale billboard atop a building in Pittsburgh. When Wormsley’s text, “There Are Black People in the Future” was featured, the landlord forced them to take down the billboard, revealing persistent racial tensions and the power of art to catalyze conversations.

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