Art and Religion

Written By: Charles - Mar• 15•08

30  bar steady 30.06 1mph WNW windchill 30

     First Quarter Moon of Winds

When I woke up, Kate was long gone.  It was 9:30.  I missed my nap yesterday and I picked the sleep time this AM.

The rest of the morning, what there was left anyhow, I used looking over my notes for the religion and contemporary art discussion I will lead on Monday.  This topic follows two ancient trails I have followed for many, many years.  I would not characterize myself as an expert in either one, though I know enough to guide conversation.

The result of this work has convinced me that there are several interesting tours at an encyclopedic museum like the MIA that do not follow either the cutesy or the artworld insider glimpse that most of our tours use.  With tours like love and scandal or chocolate whatever we give a cutesy turn to looking at art. It gets some people into the galleries I suppose and and the works themselves have many different facets, so these tours are not vacuous at all, but they don’t focus the mind.

The other category of tour:  On Dragons Wings, a Taste of Asia, Art of the Americas, Art of the Ancient World give tour goers an insiders tour, a short glimpse of the world of art history, connossieurship and curating offered through a slice of an encyclopedic museum.  Nothing wrong with this either, though I often wonder about the value of this brief an introduction to six to eight objects.  It may spark interest that tour goers will pursue on their own.  I hope so.

The kind of tour topic this religion and art material suggests could offer a third type of tour, one that takes a point of view and pursues an argument through use of various objects.  The relationship between religion and art has a long history with many chapters and in some senses the most interesting chapters come last in the world of contemporary art.   The MIA has a much better collection for pursuing this topic than, say, the Walker because we have art as old as the Lady of LaMouth and art as recent as Hirsch’s, Death of St. John.  Other interesting tours along these lines would involve the relationship between literature and art.

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