Jared Stanley honors personal loss with doctoral dissertation

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October 2, 2020
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October 2, 2020

Jared Stanley honors personal loss with doctoral dissertation

Stanley's principal studio course is in printmaking. Photo: Lindsay Shaleen

It is a typical day in the Stanley household. After he drops his kids off at school, Dr. Jared Stanley heads to work at BJU, where he has a variety of responsibilities. Stanley is a faculty member in the Art + Design Division, teaches the core class Christianity and the Arts, is the exhibition coordinator for the art department and consults for the Vintage. He also recently earned his doctorate from Texas Tech University.

Stanley graduated from BJU with his undergrad in graphic design. When finishing up his undergrad, he was asked if he would stay at the University and teach while working on his master’s in graphic design. He was hired as a full-time faculty member at BJU in 2010.

Stanley’s doctorate is in Interdisciplinary Studies with a focus on sociology and grief studies. His dissertation was on the sociological impact of displaying grief on television. He looked at the way that grief is perceived within culture and on the portrayal of grief on television. Stanley referenced about 20 shows and spoke specifically about seven of them.

Stanley said he chose to focus his doctorate in sociology and grief studies because of the death of his 14-month old son in 2012. “It’s really changed the way I see the world,” Stanley said.

Stanley said the first Easter after his son died, he began to see Christ’s death in a different light. “Usually when we think about Easter, we think about Christ’s sacrifice,” Stanley said. “I saw God’s loss; I started to see the Father’s sacrifice.”

It also changed the way he thought of his children. “When we think of our children, we think of them as ours but they’re really on loan to us,” Stanley said. Once he got in that mindset, it affected the way Stanley thought about everything.

One of the areas that Stanley’s new mindset affected was his art. One of Stanley’s favorite works that he has done is a print of Christ on the cross. He named the piece “The Father Turns His Face Away.” Stanley used the opportunity to express the loss of his son through the print. Instead of Christ being in the center, the main focus of the piece is a tumultuous sky that is very dark with a white streak down the middle and Christ is on the cross in the corner of the print. “It’s trying to capture that moment when Christ is suffering and God turns away because of the sin that was on Christ,” Stanley said. “It’s hard not to think there’s an emotional aspect to that.”

In addition to art, Stanley also teaches several classes, including the core class, Christianity and the Arts. One of Stanley’s goals in teaching the class is to help people understand the impact of art in their lives.

“I feel like my position in this core course is developing the sensitivities to deal with the subtle, yet difficult messages that come through [in art],” Stanley said. Through his teaching, Stanley aims to help students develop the tools to evaluate the art around them. He said artists have a unique platform and they should use it for God’s glory.

“You have a social responsibility as a Christian . . . to change the culture around us,” Stanley said. “The arts are a huge way to do that and have been for centuries. And be humble. You don’t know everything, and you never will. That’s okay. That’s part of the process of continual growth and learning.”