5 min read

On our podcast, Charlotte Clay, director of marketing and communications, and Dr. Jeff Kloha, chief curatorial officer, interviewed Aoife Kelly de Klerk, 2008 Rose of Tralee winner, fine art photographer, and founder of Tevah Moshe. To learn more about Aoife and her work, please see https://kellydeklerk.com/ or https://tevahmoshe.com/about/.

The following interview has been edited for clarity and space. To get the full interview, listen using the video player above or listen to the episode on our podcast, Today at Museum of the Bible, or on our YouTube channel.

Charlotte Clay: Aoife has an amazing journey she's going to share with us. She won the international Rose of Tralee competition in 2008, and was the first winner who visited the White House during the Obama administration for the Saint Patrick's Day celebration. In 2009, she moved with her husband to South Africa, and they set up a safe deposit program for mothers to give up their unwanted infants safely. And returning to Ireland, she's been working on a fine art photography project called Testimony. She has an exhibition coming soon in Belfast.

Jeff Kloha: You heard about us in South Africa, and you said something about how you mentioned us in your master’s project.

Aoife: That's right. As part of my research of the fine art photography program I'm doing at the University of Ulster in Belfast, my first assignment—I was just re-reading it this week as part of my dissertation—I'd mentioned Museum of the Bible in it. It's amazing how it all comes full circle in the end. It's great to be here, and it's bigger and more amazing than I ever would have perceived, even online.

Part of my research was where does Christian art belong in the art world. My argument was oftentimes it's ghettoized, so it's put into one particular part of a museum that's kind of like the Christian part or in a specific space, like Museum of the Bible. And my argument was that spirituality can't be removed from the essence of art. Otherwise, what is art and why would Christian art not belong in the broader landscape of the art world? So that was my argument and that's why I mentioned you as well.

Jeff: So, you do fine art photography. This exhibition coming up in Belfast, can you describe what that is and how you came up with the idea?

Aoife: So, the body of the work is called Grace, but the main work I brought to show you today was Testimony. Testimony came from 600 kilometers of walking, asking the question of how the rocks might cry out in the absence of conversations around faith in Ireland. Sadly, the conversation of Christ is no longer a comfortable one in Ireland. That was my experience. So I took to walking 600 kilometers across five different countries and looking at the rocks because a scripture in Luke says if they [disciples] don't speak, the rocks will cry out. I took out a literal exploration of how that scripture might be true. While I was doing those walks, I was having conversations with friends and with people around me. And I realized maybe the people around me immediately aren't speaking, but people are speaking. People are testifying. You know, there are stories, miracles, or healings. There are all these restorations and revivals. I was listening to them speaking and I was thinking, they're talking about testimony. That's what they're doing. And then one night, I prayed to the Lord for a word. What it is he wanted to share with me. I opened the Bible and he brought me to Revelations 12:11, they will overcome the accuser—accuser being the devil—by the blood of the lamb and the word of their testimony. I was asking myself how do we share the word of our testimony? What is our word of our testimony? How can I visualize that as a photographer, as an artist? What does testimony look like?

This excerpt is from an episode of Today at Museum of the Bible. Listen to the whole interview on SpotifyGoogle PodcastsApple PodcastsiHeart RadioYouTube, or wherever you get your podcasts.

Published May 30, 2024
5 min read