Dr. Kathryn Barush is currently Thomas E. Bertelsen Jr. Professor of Art History and Religion at the Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University and the Graduate Theological Union where she brings her training in art history and material culture to bear on studies of theology and religion. She holds a D.Phil. in modern history and an M.St. in the history of art and visual culture, both from Wadham College, University of Oxford, and a BA from Sarah Lawrence College. She has experience planning and leading art-infused student pilgrimages, ranging in length from guided day trips to longer journeys along the Camino Ignaciano in Spain and Italy. In addition to these practical applications, she has published extensively on the theory of pilgrimage, especially as it relates to art experience; her work in this area has culminated in a number of articles in both scholarly and public-facing journals, and three completed books (two authored and one edited). Her recent project, Imaging Pilgrimage: Art as Embodied Experience (Bloomsbury, 2021) was the recipient of the American Academy of Religion’s Religion and the Arts Book Award and the Borsch-Rast Book Prize, endorsed as ‘a vivid and vital evocation of the visual cultures of contemporary pilgrimage – the place of pilgrim frame of mind in current art production and the ways contemporary art itself enables and develops the pilgrimage process in the modern world.’ (Jas Elsner, University of Chicago).
Prior to taking up the Bertelsen Chair at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, CA, Dr. Barush was a postdoctoral research associate at the Center for Advanced Studies in the Visual Arts at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC where she contributed to a Mellon-funded digital humanities initiative under the direction of Therese O’Malley. Her research has been supported by grants and fellowships from the Thomas J. Watson Foundation, the Leverhulme Foundation, and the George Greenia Fellowship for Pilgrimage Studies. Dr. Barush is the founding director of the Berkeley Art and Interreligious Pilgrimage Project, launched in the summer of 2022, and remains an advisor to their sister project, the British Pilgrimage Trust.