Ellsworth Kelly’s Austin-Form Without Spirit

Walking toward the south end of campus, you’ll see a new building at the University of Texas. It’s a large bulbous looking structure near the Blanton Museum of Art, as you pass between the PCL building and Jester dorm.  It looks like a giant igloo from the back–plain stone, bereft of architectural interest.


As you walk around, three of the four sides of the cruciform structure have colored glass in simple, geometric patterns.

form 1

The building is called “Austin”, and the plans were gifted to the Blanton Museum by American artist, Ellsworth Kelly, shortly before he passed away in 2015.

Here’s what the publicity says:

“Kelly envisioned his creation as a site for joy and contemplation in the tradition of modernist artist-commissioned buildings, such as the Rothko Chapel in Houston and Henri Mattisse’s Chapelle du Rosaire in Southern France. It is an extraordinary acquisition for the Blanton and Austin community.”

Of course, one wonders how it can be in the tradition of the Rothko chapel and the Mattise chapel when the Blanton museum has gone out of its way to make sure everyone knows it’s not a chapel.

The building will be open to the public for the first time this coming Sunday, February 18, with an accompanying exhibition, Form into Spirit: Ellsworth Kelly’s Austin.

form 3

The title of the exhibition should raise the brows of anyone who’s paying attention.

Kelly was an atheistic naturalist. This philosophy denies the existence of anything spiritual. If you believe, as Kelly did, that matter is all there is and we are nothing more than the product of mindless, unguided natural processes, there is no spiritual realm.  There can never be any spiritual dimension for the atheist, unless they borrow from a religious framework, which is exactly what is happening here.


Kelly’s structure is form without spirit. That would be a better title, consistent with the the artist’s life and the corpus of his work.

Atheists, like Ellsworth Kelly, borrow from religion because they cannot consistently live out atheism and its ramifications, or speak about it without refuting their own views. Their art must draw from other resources to find meaning.

I explain Kelly’s worldview in this short video and then relate it to the “Austin” structure in this short video.

Ellsworth Kelly’s homosexual partner, Jack Shear (still living), has called it a “secular chapel”.  But that’s an oxymoron. Before we jettison all logic, we should recall that “chapel” is a word referring to a place for Christian worship. At the very least, it denotes a place for religious observance. Don’t take my word for it, just google it.

An argument could be made that the language surrounding Ellsworth Kelly’s Austin does violence to language itself. It denigrates what little Christian heritage remains in our culture by redefining and confusing the very words we use to talk about it.

Some questions to think about:

Why do atheists use religious language?

Why is the Christian faith often seen as an enemy of the artistic elite?







Inaugural Women in Apologetics Conference at Biola University





This event is the first of its kind and I suspect it will be the first of many more.

The inaugural Women in Apologetics conference, hosted by Biola University, takes place this coming weekend, January 19-20th.

Christian apologetics is a branch of Christian theology that aims to present historical, reasoned, and evidential bases for Christianity, defending it against objections.

The keynote speakers are 4 accomplished apologists:  Mary Jo SharpNatasha Crain, Melissa Cain Travis, and Hillary Morgan Ferrer,.


In addition to the keynotes, there will be 12 breakout sessions, each featuring specialized topics, answering questions such as, “Can we trust the Bible?”, “Does Christianity oppress women?”, and “Who is Jesus in Islam?”



I have the priviledge of participating as a breakout speaker at this historic event! You can see me on the bottom row, third over. Can you guess what I’ll be talking about?

The arts, of course!

The title of my talk is, “A Creative Defense: How the Arts Point to God”.  There will be three main areas of interest: shared aesthetic experience, recognition of beauty, and the uniqueness of human creativity.

My Google slides are ready, my dress is back from the cleaners, and I have a ready supply of chocolate for the trip!

If you have any questions about this upcoming conference, please don’t hesitate to contact them here.  And if you are able to make it to Biola next weekend for the conference, please stop by and say hello!

Have a blessed weekend!


Scarlett Clay WIA 2018