Senior art student Emily Kent’s show, “My Christan Sex Life,” premieres on April 19 in the Samford Art Lofts.
Every senior in the Samford art department is required to do an art show featuring their work. Students are encouraged to select a particular focus to center their art around. For Kent, it was important to use classical oil paintings to embrace a topic that is often taboo.
“I’m doing this show because it’s something that nobody talks about, and it should be talked about,” Kent said, “It’s something that is beautiful, that is wonderful, that is plenty talked about in the Bible and people just don’t even realize it because a lot of the churches only tell the negatives.”
The artwork chronicles Kent’s personal experience with the topic.
“I did a chronological journey of my processing of intimacy, of relationships, of sex, and then also, what I wanted in the future,” she said. “I want people to feel able to talk about it in a Christian community and to not be judged.”
Her journey began by talking to people in her life about topics like masturbation and premarital sex within a Christian context.
“I saw that the world around me just has sex everywhere,” Kent said. “I felt really angry almost at the way that sex and love and intimacy was being turned into this commodity.”
As she got older, Kent said those conversations began to shift away from frustration and toward non-judgemental curiosity.
“I’m not the authority,” Kent said, “but what does God say about it?”
The process to approve this project began about a year ago, when Kent proposed the idea to her art professors, who gave her their enthusiastic support.
“That’s how I’ve always been taught here, to share stuff that matters,” Kent said.
It was vital to Kent that this project be displayed on Samford’s campus.
“This is the audience. This is the time we need to talk about it,” she said, “That’s also why I used Samford students as my models for the most part.”
After Dean of the School of the Arts Joseph Hopkins approved it and a detailed plan was established, Provost Michael Hardin gave his approval as well.
“That really put this joy and hope in me for Samford and for this community to be able to have these conversations,” Kent said, “It’s still a Christian conversation. And I was really pleasantly surprised that everybody wants this to happen and wants to support the process.”
The exhibition will be on display from April 19 to April 29 on weekdays, with a virtual artist reception on April 20 and an in-person talk back on the final day of the exhibition. Kent hopes the in-person forum will spark dialogue among the audience.
“It’s a place that we can have the conversation that this entire show is meant to bring about. That’s the mission and work,” she said.
The door to the exhibition will be locked with an attendant present to let people in. No photography of any kind will be permitted. Kent’s purpose statement will be posted outside the door to orient audiences before entrance.
“In my statement I talk about how I’m wanting this conversation to start and for us all to be non-judgemental and loving and try to find God’s truth,” Kent said. “I think that’s the key, to know about it, have the knowledge, be aware of sex and love and intimacy and be okay to talk about it.”
After graduation, Kent hopes to enter the fashion industry as a stylist.
“Another thing that’s a God thing for me is body positivity and realizing that we are made in His image,” Kent said, “Fashion is more than just an outside thing. It is about expression and about positivity.”