Art history is back at Berkshire after a prolonged absence and the class is taking a slightly different twist on this comprehensive discipline. Instead of a chronological “art in the dark” approach to the material, this new course is being taught in two separate semester-long courses that explore material thematically. October’s theme has been “Sacred Image/Sacred Space” where students have studied major world religions through not only two-dimensional representations, but also through the architecture of their respective quintessential houses of worship.
Today, led by Michael Cassin, the director of the Center for Education and Visual Arts at the Clark, students engaged in a dialogue to interpret and decode various works of religious art on display at the institute’s new exhibit, Sacred and Profane: Four Hundred Years of Religious and Mythological Painting. These young art historians continued to gain a deeper appreciation for the importance of visual acuity in a world laden with images.
Just down the street from the Clark, Thompson Memorial Chapel afforded students the opportunity to investigate architectural terminology that they had only previously experienced on screen. Completed in 1904, Thompson Chapel serves as a non-denominational space on the Williams College campus. Today, it served as a classroom for our students who were literally able to reach out and touch what had previously appeared as just definitions and diagrams.
Much was accomplished in these few short hours, and, after this hands-on experience, students certainly left with a personal understanding of that connection between sacred images and the spaces created for worship.