Spring Colloquium

2019 Colloquium Topic

Visual Art as an Expression of Spirituality

The New Mexico Interfaith Dialogue holds an annual Colloquium in the spring, offering a full day of knowledgeable speakers providing though-provoking presentations on religious topics and discussion among audience participants.

Visual Art as an Expression of Spirituality is explored by Rudy Miera on Santos, sculptor, Harvey Buchalter, iconographer, Karen Smart, calligrapher, Nasima Hadi, and painter, Juan Pablo Atencio as the featured speakers at the New Mexico Interfaith Dialogue’s 2019 Spring Colloquium.

The Colloquium will take place Tuesday, March 26, 2019 from 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at Congregation B’nai Israel, 4401 Indian School Road NE. Tickets to the event, which include breakfast and lunch, plus networking time, cost $40 ($20 for students). Register online through the secure PayPal link below.

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Substance of the day. Since earliest time people across the world have made images that record important aspects of their lives. The Southwest certainly illustrates that reality.

Join us as we look at contemporary visual expressions of spirituality, and ask questions such as:

  • How does art reflect social and individual spirituality?

  • What opportunities and constraints does religious belief or a faith tradition impose on artistic expression?

  • What leads an artist to choose a particular form or type of creative expression?

  • How important is viewer response to such art?

The 2019 Colloquium speakers are:

Rudy Miera

Rudy Miera

A Native New Mexican, Rudy was born and educated in Abuquerque. After graduating from Valley High he attended UNM and earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Art Education and began his teaching career working with juveniles court-ordered to the Youth Diagnostic Center (of the Corrections Department). Rudy married his wife, MariAnne, (A Special Education teacher) and taught art and English at schools in Santa Fe where he apprenticed under Charlie Carrillo and began painting Retablos (Santos) in the old traditional style. (He continues to paint image of the angels and Saints to this day.) Last year Rudy returned to painting expressionist portraits, imaginative landscapes and impressionist still life acrylic-on-canvas and linen works. (Rudy also sometimes works in pen and ink and watercolor, which he used to design the cover of his debut novel, “The Fall and Rise of Champagne Sanchez.”)


Harvey Buchalter

Harvey Buchalter

Harvey is a self-taught sculptor in wood and stone whose works are both realistic and impressionistic. Many of the works that come from his studio are Judaica items: menorahs, seder plates, commemorative items with Hebrew-lettered inscriptions, and commissioned works for synagogues. His work has been featured in numerous galleries, juried exhibitions, and museums. He expresses his deep ties to his faith and it is his wish that each piece draws the viewer closer to his/her own spirituality. Harvey is a native New Yorker, but has lived in New Mexico since 1969, when he returned from Peace Corps Service in Bolivia. He holds a BA from Brooklyn College of the City of NY and an MA in Latin American Studies and History from UNM. He is now retired from a 29 year teaching career, mainly with APS.



Karen Smart

Karen Smart

Karen Smart was born in El Paso, Texas in 1960. Searching for spiritual knowledge and a personal relationship with Jesus, she converted to the Roman Catholic faith in 2005 and graduated from the Denver Catholic Biblical School in 2007. A pilgrimage to the Holy Land in 2006 inspired her to study iconography under the direction of Dmitry Andrejev of the Prosopon School in New York. Karen has worked in a variety of mediums throughout her life but after only one workshop in Denver all other art forms were abandoned, devoting herself solely to iconography. “It was a perfect match of spirituality and my particular skill set.”
Preserving the integrity of the ancient method, Karen is committed to using only natural materials and pigments. Egg tempera and gold leaf enable a richness, depth, vibrancy of color, texture and multi-layer transparency achievable by no other means. Believing the Holy Spirit to be the true Author /Artist of the icon, Karen refers to herself as “an inspired tool” merely holding the brush while prayerfully connecting to the subject. Karen currently lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico with her two pugs where she writes icons for churches, private chapels and individuals. She also offers individual instruction, lectures, workshops and studio tours.


Juan Paul Atencio

Juan Paul Atencio

Juan is a retired Mechanical Engineer who enjoys painting & family. I am married to
Jan and we are the parents of three children and grandparents of four.
My artwork draws from my Hispanic & Native American heritage. I am inspired to
create abstract art representing the emotions, feelings and impressions from events
that speak to me of my rich heritage and history. I used to think that photo-realistic
painting was the only “real” kind of art . . . I now look at the way in which a
painting draws the viewer in and brings out emotions and imagination.


Nasima Hadi

Nasima Hadi

I, Nasima A Hadi, born in Kabul Afghanistan, was raised in a large, loving, educated family with six sisters and one brother. I studied architecture at the University of Engineering & Architecture, Odessa, Ukraine after which I returned to Kabul. I worked there as an architect until 1992 when the political situation made it unsafe to remain there. In 1995 I was married and moved to Albuquerque with my husband. I enjoy gardening and entertaining. I love nature and find it inspiring in my work and life. I believe in the God of Abraham and am a Muslim. In addition to my master’s in architectural engineering I have a master’s in architecture from UNM. My life and travels to many countries has taught me six different languages. Currently I am working with the city of Albuquerque as a construction plans examiner in the Planning Department. I love drawing and painting, and every Tuesday during my lunch I get with a friend to work on art projects. I pull from nature for most of my drawings: water, landscaping, the rising and setting of the sun. I find it to be very relaxing and a way to appreciate God’s creation.


Gail Rubin

Moderator: Gail Rubin, CT

Gail Rubin, CT, is a past president and board member of the NM Interfaith Dialogue who has organized and attended the Spring Colloquium for many years. She is a pioneering death educator and an award-winning speaker and author. Albuquerque Business First named her as one of their 2019 Women of Influence for her work getting people to plan ahead for end-of-life issues.

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