I am August Venuh (they/them) from Nagaland, Northeast India.
I just graduated from Columbia Theological Seminary (CTS) and I am still on CTS campus because I was not able to go home due to the pandemic. I will be joining Garrett Evangelical Theological Seminary this fall to do my Ph.D. in Theology and Ethics.
What are your interests in your field of study/work?
I am interested in contributing to scholarly work and visual art that will affirm and advocate sexual justice for the LGBTQ+ communities in Nagaland. I plan to integrate visual art based on my research that would communicate to a wider audience. In doing so, I would like to use art as a tool, in raising awareness about certain social justice issues, to redeem woman characters in the bible who are sidelined, disregarded, deemed as insignificant, and portrayed negatively by Christian tradition, and to tell the story of myself and of my people who are often misrepresented and whose existence the world hardly knows.
Who has inspired you to do the work you do?
My source of inspiration stem from my own experiences as a person from a marginalized community, my parents never failing trust and support, and from the acts of kindness of my professors, my advisors, and friends who have been a constant support through thick and thin. Summer 2020 was a pivotal moment in my art journey. I have been yearning to integrate theology and art and interpret my story through visual art but I was clueless where to begin and how to go about. With the help of Rev. Katie Ricks I signed up for an art class for my supervised ministry last summer with Dr. Sue Boardman, a certified Intentional Creativity teacher & Coach. With Dr. Sue, I experienced and explored visual art in a very different perspective that was transforming and healing. She continues to inspire, motivate and support me in so many ways.
Classes which I took while at CTS, to mention a few, Ethics, Social Justice Activism, and Art which was my independent study with Dr. Marcia Y. Riggs, Spirituality and the Art taught by Dr. Christine J. Hong and, Christology and Cultural Imagination with Dr. Kwok Pui Lan, helped me deepen my understanding on art in a wide spectrum and appreciate art from different cultural backgrounds.
Something you have learned or enjoyed recently? (ex. new hobby, show on netflix, etc)
Trapped in my room due to the pandemic I have found ways to enjoy every moment painting and listening to it. Being a hard core introvert with social anxiety, worsened by the pandemic, I have found ways to express my emotions and feelings through visual art and the process has been very redemptive and healing.
CTS library has also commissioned me to paint for the library that would represent my faith and culture. This commission is what I am doing currently and it is one of the most exciting as well as scary projects I have ever done. Exciting because I am representing my culture, my story, which I always wanted to do and scary because of my lack of confidence and also because it is the biggest canvas (36X48in) I have ever painted on. I learn as I paint and sometimes there are unexpected messages I receive from the characters or stories I bring to live on my canvas.
What brings you hope?
Knowing that wonderful people exist I am very hopeful for myself and for others. My friends, advisors, and professors who have who supported me and encouraged me through difficult times, the pandemic in particular, tells me that I am not alone. The love and support from known and unknown people during these unprecedented times which made it possible for me to still reside in the US has given me great hope and it continues to inspire me.
My Art Journey