Brauer hosts symposium in collaboration with art exhibit

“From the Inside Out” by Rick Harlow is on display in the Brauer Museum of Art.

The Brauer Museum of Art is hosting Inner Visions Symposium on Wednesday, March 25, bringing the dream team of experts on ayahuasca and other hallucinogenic substances for spiritual, medicinal, and artistic use to present.

The Brauer is currently hosting an exhibit of artwork stemming from the connected spiritual visions, and now the opportunity to gain a deeper understanding is here. As Museum Director Gregg Hertzlieb put it, “Not only can they [the guest speakers] talk, but they can point to the artwork.”

The symposium’s four presentations take place throughout the entire day in the Union Ballrooms. Then a final panel of all of the experts will convene in the Community Room in the evening after a dinner break. Topics include such varied subjects as what the environment is telling us through plants, the medicinal and psychological aspects, the anthropological, first-hand presentations from two of the artists featured in the exhibit, and more.

“We’ve never had a conglomeration of speakers and art like this,” said art faculty Bob Sirko. Between art, science, the environment, anthropology, and religion, the event covers a wide variety of interests.

Professor DeMaris of the Theology Department says the event is a “very significant event for the campus.”

Some of the questions explored will make attendees question themselves and their views. The topic of hallucinogenic drugs strike against the narrative the public so often hears about drugs being bad and them certainly not fitting in with anything sacred. Meanwhile the users of ayahuasca undergo deep spiritual experiences which can be seen reflected in their artwork and will be shared in the presentations.

The opening presentation “Uncovering the Imagery of Sacred Plants in Ancient American Art: Five Major Plant Teachers” by Rebecca Bailey brings her expertise to introduce the audience to five plants that have opened shamans to spiritual visions. The plants appear throughout the art and throughout history, and their presence throughout life will be delved into greater detail.

Following Bailey, William Richards brings his years of clinical knowledge for his “Sacred Knowledge: Religious Experiences and Psychedelic Sacraments” presentation. He has studied psychedelic substances for years and has found uses in medicinal and educational as well as religious practices. His presentation will explore different states of consciousness and their achievement through psychedelics.

Two of the artists, Rick Harlow and Anderson Debernardi, will present at the symposium. Harlow will be giving a presentation titled “Shaman of Colors” where he will be sharing his experiences in the Colombian Amazon where he ventured to learn about the cultures in the area. His speech includes his introduction to the Yucuna and Macuna people, his first experiences with ayahuasca, and the influence on his paintings.

Following Harlow, McKenna’s presentation titled “Waking Up the Monkeys: Plant Teachers and The Rediscovery of Nature” will cover some of his ethnobotanical study, including a critical and urgent message to humanity that the environment is telling humanity. He will explain humanity’s connection to nature, humanity’s part in it, and how people should better act in the future.

After the dinner break, the panel will discuss questions curated by notable exhibition curator Luis Eduardo Luna. The speakers from earlier in the day as well as artist Debernardi will discuss works in the Brauer Museum as well as overarching themes from throughout the day.

Contact Nichole Smith at

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