Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Art As a Gateway to the Sacred

In the two millennia that Christianity has existed, art has played an ever vital role in the lives of the faithful.  Christian art developed early in the history of the church, with symbols, such as fish or lamb to  represent Christ and/or Christian communities.  However, once Christianity became an established religion, the world of Christian art exploded.  Many fine pieces of this early art remain today, such as mosaics and stain glass windows.  These impressive depictions were created to transport the worshiper from an earthly state to a divine experience, or heaven on earth.  Something we are all very familiar with, cathedrals, are considered to be some of the most impressive structures built to this day and they themselves are considered artwork. These churches were filled with statues and stained glass, not only to create a celestial atmosphere, but also to tell as story.  During the middle ages, an overwhelming majority of the population was illiterate, therefore churches began to teach through art.  These statues and stained glass are meant to tell the story of the Old Testament, Christ, and Church doctrine, making it easier for people to understand their religious beliefs.  I find religious art to be a fascinating addition to the art world.  It serves such an important role in the church and in many ways allows people to strengthen their faith.


  1. It is impossible to ignore importance of religious art in art history. It is also fascinating learning how much the art really meant to the people who made it. For example, light that came through stained glass windows was considered to be a parallel to the divine light. It is hard to imagine how beautiful and colorful stained glass must have seemed to a people without electricity or television screens!

  2. I think it's also interesting to contrast Christian art with that of Islamic art, which focuses heavily on geometric shapes and patterns. Islamic art views geometric patterns as creating an infinite pattern that extends beyond the visible world. This reflect's on Allah's creation without employing figurative iconography, as is common in Christian art.