The Art of Robert Campbell: A Liberating Spiritual Praxis


This study, derived from a book proposal, examines the art of Robert Campbell (1948-1995), whose work in the 1980s and 90s developed complex perspectives on intercultural dialogue and social innovation within American art. Deeply informed by Latino Catholic texts and rituals, Campbell’s art installations uniquely combined spiritual and activist practices that built engaged communities of solidarity and inspired significant contributions to humanitarian work he led in Belize, Texas, and Guatemala. Throughout his career, this Houston-based artist, neurologist, and vowed Dominican brother combined literature, music, art, and ritual performance to actively engage audiences in issues of poverty and injustice while powerfully conveying a sense of Liberation Theology’s ‘liberating praxis.’ Campbell spoke frequently of this lived praxis as always constituted through personal reflection, communal interaction, and direct action. The powerful influence of his art actions sought to enliven such a ‘liberating praxis.’ In one way, the effectiveness of this art can be measured through the success of his humanitarian organization, Sociedad de San Martin de Porres (SSMP). The artist/physician created this non-profit medical group to provide health care, medical provisions, construction of health clinics, and education in Central America. This research examines the artistic and spiritual praxis based on extensive interviews with the artist. This artistic activity engaged a reciprocal exchange of values across cultures, fostering independent and co-equal gifts of renewal across borders.


Judith Huacuja
Professor of Art History, Art and Design, University of Dayton, Ohio, United States


Presentation Type

Paper Presentation in a Themed Session


2024 Special Focus—Spaces, Movement, Time: Religions at Rest and in Movement


Artistic Practice, Cross-Cultural Dialogue, Liberation Theology, Spiritual Practice in Art

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