CAA 2023 CFP: Creating Sacred Space

Joanne Allen's picture
Call for Papers
August 31, 2022
New York, United States
Subject Fields: 
Architecture and Architectural History, Art, Art History & Visual Studies, Early Modern History and Period Studies, Historic Preservation, Religious Studies and Theology

CFP CAA 2023, New York, 15-18 February 2023. Deadline: August 31st, 2022

Creating Sacred Space
Session will present: In-person

Joanne Allen, American University
Email Address(s):

What does it mean to create a ‘sacred space’? How can elements of architectural design, materials, lighting, acoustics, and iconography combine to transcend the everyday? These spaces have the potential to move us, calm us, or inspire us, no matter what our beliefs. Conversely, as they are inevitably subject to power dynamics and societal control, they have the power to exclude based on gender, sexuality, race, religion, or ethnicity. An enduring theme across cultures, the vast majority of faith traditions have utilized specific spatial constructs in which to worship and pray, their many shared features including focal areas, symbolic shapes and proportions, delimitations and barriers, gender divisions, and hierarchical segregation. Beyond these traditional spaces, the reopening of the Rothko Chapel in 2021 and the Vatican Chapels at the 2018 Venice Architecture Biennale urge us to reconsider the role of sacred space in the modern and contemporary context. Immersive art experiences such as those created by Turrell and Kusama suggest that contemporary art museums can function as spaces for non-denominational spirituality, while the pandemic has forced the creation of online sacred space. With a view to reassessing the so-called “spatial turn” in the Humanities, this session invites papers from a broad chronological, cultural, and geographical range that analyze and interpret sacred space from a variety of historical and theoretical perspectives.

Please send the following via email to session chairs by August 31, 2022.

  1. Completed proposal form (click to download).
  2. A shortened CV (close to 2 pages).
  3. (Optional) Documentation of work; limit to five images as a single PDF, especially for sessions in which artists might discuss their own practice.
Contact Info: 

Joanne Allen, American University

Contact Email: