Art and Human Identity

T Frank Kennedy, SJ was a Senior Research Fellow in Music at Campion Hall and held the Canisius Chair in Humanitites and Music at Boston College. As a musicologist Dr. Kennedy edited, produced and professionally recorded four baroque operas associated with the early Society of Jesus. Recently T Frank was recognized by Boston College for his lifetime of service to music; the below remarks are from his acceptance speech. 


I would like to thank you all, and especially my colleagues from the Arts Council of Boston College for this award which I gratefully receive. You know, I’ve spent most of my adult life at Boston College, as a Jesuit, as an academic, and as an artist. Through my students, colleagues and the practice of performance, I’ve learned a great deal about the liberal arts tradition, through this engagement with the Fine Arts. In addition to being one of the founding members of the Music Department in 1989, the experience of making and sharing music performance, as well as the interdisciplinary sharing with the other arts communities on campus, I have become increasingly convinced of the importance of the Fine Arts in the study of the humanities in the Jesuit tradition. In addition to encouraging music on campus, I also have been very involved with appearance of much of the public art on campus. I was in the privileged position of commissioning a number of works of art: The Tree of Life Fountain, The Statue of St Ignatius and the Statue of St Thomas More on the Newton Campus in front of the Law School.

By means of these varied experiences I have come to appreciate ever more deeply the artistic experience, and by that I mean the realization that every artist, every creative person, begins with the same basic materials that the previous artist has had at his or her disposal, whether those materials be musical notation or paint or stone or words. The artist then takes those materials and refashions them into a new statement about human identity in whatever artistic form he or she uses. That experience of the creative not only encompasses the life of the artist, but is also the artist’s gift to us. As we human beings experience these works of art, we are challenged to understand at an ever deeper level our own human identity. We are always adding new perspectives to our understanding of who we are.

This is why I am so grateful today. To have the chance to say to you all, thank you for enabling me not only to contribute through the Fine Arts to the development of this particular community at Boston College, but even more, that through this experience of my life here at Boston College. I have come to know that, not only are we all related to one another, but at a very deep and mysterious level we are one another.

Thank you so much!