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Art Historian's Talk Kicks Off Alabaster Sculpture Exhibition Feb. 17

Story posted February 16, 2011

Head of St. John the Baptist, late 15th century, alabaster. On loan from the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Kathryn Smith, associate professor of art history at New York University, will speak about art and devotion in late Medieval England at 4:30 p.m. Thursday, February 17, 2011, in Smith Auditorium, Sills Hall.

Smith's talk, "Bringing the Holie Companie of Heven to Earth: Medieval English Alabaster Sculpture in Its Religious, Visual, and Social Contexts," is being presented in conjunction with the opening of the exhibition Object of Devotion: Medieval English Alabaster Sculpture from the Victoria and Albert Museum at the Bowdoin College Museum of Art. The exhibition opens February 17 and runs through May 15, 2011.

Alabaster production during the Middle Ages centered on the making and selling of finely decorated, gilded, and colored sculpture to churches, nobles, and owners of private chapels. More common examples, however, were intended to brighten the homes and spiritual lives of people of modest means and are now treasured as the folk art of the ordinary medieval English man and woman.

Due to this range in intended audience, this assemblage of English alabasters offers an unrivaled glimpse into the spiritual lives, hopes, fears and religious aspirations of both aristocratic and non-aristocratic society during the Middle Ages.

The exhibition is organized and circulated by Art Services International, Alexandria, Virginia, and is supported by a grant from The Samuel H. Kress Foundation.

Smith's talk is sponsored by the Art History Division of the Department of Art.

Following Smith's lecture, the Museum will host an opening reception and Open House at 5:30 p.m. to celebrate its winter exhibitions, including Object of Devotion and The Bible Illuminated.

Additional events that will be presented in conjunction with the Object of Devotion exhibition include the following:

  • "Looking at the Word: Text and Image in Late Medieval Devotion," a lecture by Jessica Brantley, associate professor of English at Yale University. Thursday, February 24, 2011, at 4:30 p.m., Smith Auditorium, Sills Hall.
  • "The Lives and Deaths of Images in the Islamic World," a lecture by Jamal Elias, the Class of 1965 Term Professor of Religious Studies, University of Pennsylvania. Thursday, March 3, 2011, at 5 p.m. in Smith Auditorium, Sills Hall.

All talks and Museum exhibitions are open to the public and admission is free.

The Bowdoin College Museum of Art is open Tuesday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Thursday until 8:30 p.m.; and Sunday 1-5 p.m. The museum is closed Mondays and national holidays. For more information call 207-725-3275.

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