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Williams Cross Collection

Williams Cross Collection


The artifacts featured in this collection were donated to the Divinity School Library by the Rev. Hollis R. Williams, Jr. '64, an alumnus and retired Episcopal priest currently residing in Seattle.

The Divinity School Library at Duke University plans to make more of its collection available in special online exhibits like this one and through its digital repository at http://divinityarchive.com.

These photographs are made available for use through an attribution required (please give credit to the photographer), commercial uses prohibited, creative commons license.

A Personal Statement

Collection of Crosses, Crucifixes, & Icon;

The Rev. Hollis R. Williams, Jr.

One of the most stimulating courses I elected to take while a student at Duke Divinity School was "Art and Theology" taught by Professor William Poteet. Several upper class friends had taken that course and also another one he taught and urged me to sign up for the class and the experience of the instructor. Dr. Poteet was a life-long patron of the arts as well as a thoughtful theologian.

In this course he traced the history of world art with a philosophical bent behind the reality which the work presented. His hypothesis was that the artists were slightly ahead of their present culture and reflected a shift in the understanding reality and the philosophical and cultural shifts that were emerging for society.

His perspective and insight got woven into my mind and experience. Like many of my colleagues who were bullish on his course but could not really verbalize well what was happening in their mind and experience. I was at the same place, but incredibly appreciative of my experience in the class and felt something important had happened to me. Some four or five years later, I had an epiphany about my time with Dr. Poteet, and something transformative happened with my way of looking at art, artifacts, and social constructs of community.

Since ordination and additional exposure to various faith communities, I enlarged my appreciation for various faith expressions and cultural variations in our Christian tradition. At several points I acquired some religious artifacts (crosses, crucifixes, and icons. Each had particular theological, devotional, or cultural significance which enriched my faith and life. It also influenced me to be trained as a Touring Docent at the Seattle Art Museum where I have volunteered for over fifteen years.

I am pleased that the collection and a few stories associated with many of them can enrich the experience of others who walk through Duke Divinity School on their faith and professional journey.

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