Yohana Junker

On Art, Religion, and the Poetics of Resistance



I'm an educator, visual artist, and Ph.D. Candidate at the Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley. I'm a presidential Scholar in the Art and Religion program, as well as a Louisville Institute Fellow (2016-2018) and a Hispanic Theological Initiative Scholar (2018-2019).

I take education seriously and am committed to a praxis that sees learning as an experience of convivência, of living and learning en conjunto.

As an immigrant from Brazil, I am dedicated to advancing the representation of Latinx scholars in the academy, particularly within the academic disciplines I work most closely with: art history, religious aesthetics, and eco-criticism, which continue to be predominantly populated by white male scholars.

My very presence in these spaces is both an act of resistance and a movement towards decolonization.

Central to my passion and calling are the notions of art as a locus theologicus and a place for fashioning critical faith communities through theopoetics. I believe that an embodied-artistic-theological education can engender something of a divine movement—suffused with mystery and hope—that restores our sense of purpose, thirst for justice, and the desire for transformation.

I have been inspired by a litany of Latin American thinkers: Paulo Freire, Ivone Gebara, Nancy Cardoso, Berta Cárceres, Dom Pedro Casaldáliga, Marcia Tiburi, Marcella Althaus-Reid, Anderson França, Djamila Ribeiro, Joice Berth, Emicida, Liniker, Maria Gabriela Saldanha, Rubem Alves, and so many others that don't make it into academic circles of recognition or circuits of knowledge production and dissemination.

I have been dedicated to building on the foundation of their work,  developing my own constructive, interdisciplinary, and de-colonial pedagogical methodologies that affirm art, imagination, and theological inquiry as belonging together.

My dissertation research investigates how ostensibly secular works of contemporary arts from the American Southwest display theological vibrancy, colonial reminiscence, and subversive potential. One of the vital academic questions I pursue is how contemporary works of art can shape and transform the ways in which we understand our relationship to culture, history, the environment, and lived religion.

The art I survey re-imagines and re-creates the present towards a future that yearns for the Spirit of God to grace us with hopeful awareness, subversion, solidarity, and response-ability.

When I am not writing, researching, teaching-learning, painting, or communicating, you can find me thinking about the poetics of resistance in Hayward, California. Born and raised in São Paulo, Brazil, I have been living in the United States since 2010.  

Calling all collaborators, resistors, conspirators and life-long learners—let’s talk!