We all want to truly understand and experience great art - especially religious art.
But you need more than just learning to value brush strokes, figure placement, and perspective. As a professor and author, Dr. Jem Sullivan is uniquely qualified to present both the artistic elements of great art and the spiritual dimension inherent in Christian art.
How Art Speaks to Us
Religious art is rooted in the theological foundation of the Church - the Incarnation. A painting, sculpture, or fresco can speak the language of the Incarnation: the Word of God. Professor Sullivan will teach you how to see that language spoken in art, how to hear it, and how to receive it into your heart. She introduces concrete tools for rediscovering the profound messages of religious art that are too often overlooked.
Professor Sullivan discusses:
- The anthropological basis for Christian art - the human person was created for beauty
- Our need to rediscover Christian art in our contemporary visual culture
- Pope St. John Paul II's Letter to Artists, in which he describes the "call to the vocation of beauty"
Professor Sullivan also adapts the timeless method of Christian meditation on Scripture to studying the "visual gospel" of religious art. The four steps of Lectio Divina - reading, meditation, prayer, and contemplation - are ideally suited to rediscovering the spiritual depth of religious art.
- Begin by "reading" the artwork as you would the pages of a sacred text
- Move into the "why" of the piece and meditate on the source for the scene depicted - the Bible passage, event in a saint's life, or spiritual reality presented
- Turn toward God in prayer, with the reflections gathered from the first two steps
- Rest in the mysteries of faith contemplated in the artwork, and allow God to speak to your heart and mind.
By adapting the method of Lectio Divina to the study of art, we can learn to see with the "eyes of faith" and hear with the "ears of the heart." Our appreciation of beauty should always direct us back to God.
Develop a True Appreciation for Great Art
You are invited to join Professor Sullivan on a journey through the 2,000-year history of the Church, during which you will learn not only how to appreciate art, but how genuine masterpieces can serve as a spiritual aid. With Professor Sullivan, you can finally realize your goal of developing a true appreciation for the religious masterworks of Western Civilization.
- lesson plan
- final essay
- lecture notes
- answer key
- Jem Sullivan, Ph.D.
- Catholic Courses
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