A classroom door opens into a medieval church this week in the Gund Gallery.
The exhibition “A House of Heaven and Earth: The Parish Church in Medieval England” opens in the Meier/Draudt Curatorial Classroom in the gallery on Monday at 7:15 p.m. and will continue through Friday, December 13. The exhibition may be visited from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. through the week.
Students in the Art and Architecture of the English Parish Church class curated the exhibition in collaboration with their instructor, Professor of Art History Sarah Blick. Students involved in the project include: Heather Brennan '14, Peter Frost '14, Lucas Herweyer '15, Julia Horst '17, Eleanor Ritchie '14, and David Turitzin '15.
“The curatorial classroom has been sectioned off into the porch, the nave, the side aisles, and the chancel (of a church),” Blick said. “Men and women of all different classes and backgrounds met here and worshiped, celebrated parties, and found ways to create a social safety net for the village.”
Making a church fit inside a classroom was a challenge, and the students managed the space and certain architectural elements in the planning and execution of the exhibition. “With the classroom entrance actually being at the east, we arbitrarily decided that it was in the west because the chancel, where the altar was in parish churches, was invariably in the east, generally opposite or diagonally opposing the door,” Blick said.
In addition to recreating the physical features of a church, students explored the different roles of the parish church in medieval society. Alongside their religious functions, churches served as centers of social and political activity and strengthened local bonds through art and architecture.
“The architecture, in terms of the building's plan and the details of its stonework, was also a source of local pride. Each parish church reflected the ambitions and, frankly, the wealth or poverty of a certain area,” Blick added. “The students have done a superlative job recreating a complex space and explicating intricate ideas that reflect the wide range of readings we discussed in the class.”
The class utilized 3-D printers to help with the construction of the exhibition, printing several models including a sculpture of the Virgin Mary and Christ Child.
To learn more about the free exhibition, contact the Department of Art History, 740-427-5342.
By Nina Zimmerman ’14