Humans of the ISM | Xiao Situ, M.A.R. ’17

Religion and the Arts, Student Life, Visual Arts, Yale Divinity School

Working at the Yale University Art Gallery gave me the idea to apply to the ISM. Before that, I was just thinking of becoming an art historian or a professor in art history, but while working here at the gallery, I interacted with different kinds of people from different age groups – a huge portion of humanity. It inspired me to go the ISM so I could learn more about how to be with people. I started to realize that being in the art gallery wasn’t just about learning about art or teaching art, but it was really a sacred space in the sense that humans are engaging with each other and sometimes talking about big ideas – whether it’s about life, family, existence, society, or politics – and at the heart of those conversations was the work of art. Art was this portal that opened up and created a special space so people could talk about those things. It’s almost like the artwork is alive and becomes a medium for that kind of conversation.

I think the ISM is a wonderful place to see the intersection between music students, divinity students, and the visual arts. I really feel how significant my presence is because I represent a portion of the arts the ISM wants to encompass. I feel like my particular training and background and lens really mean a lot to the ‘arts’ part of “religion and the arts.” I also learn a lot from being around divinity students and music students, and hope that they can learn from me. So for me, it’s more than taking courses – it’s about the discussions, and being around people who are very passionate about different disciplines, different areas, and different goals that really adds to the significance of being here.    

Xiao Situ, is a first year M.A.R. comprehensive at Yale Divinity School and the ISM. She did her Ph.D. studies in art history at Yale before joining the Divinity School, and she is interested in integrating the arts with pastoral care and theology.


Interview and photo by Tara Jamali, M.A.R. ’17