Saturday, February 19, 2011

Treasures from the Vatican

Yesterday at the Museum of Art Ft. Lauderdale, I went to see the current exhibit "Treasures from the Vatican." Some of them had never been outside the Vatican. My friend's mother had reported that it was an almost holy experience for her, a reconnecting to the Divine (although she might not have phrased it that way). I was prepared for something wonderful.

I did like the first part of the exhibit, which contained interesting artifacts from ruins. And I liked the art from the missionary section. The case of three missals was amazing. The gallery of popes left me underwhelmed, although I did get to put my hand into a bronze handprint of Pope John Paul II. It was oddly soothing. I did it several times.

I kept wondering why I was feeling disappointed. I expected more treasures from artists I'd heard of. At first I thought maybe it was just my lack of art history knowledge. Maybe I'm not as well-educated as I thought I was. But we had a painter with an MFA in our group, and she'd never heard of most of the artists either.

The various chalices and robes and worship items awakened my inner 19 year old. I could hear her scream: "All this gold! All these jewels!!! While the Christians in the pews are STARVING! TO DEATH!!!!" I tried to concentrate on the artistry, but once my inner 19 year old is awakened, it's very difficult to ignore her.

Because I went with a school trip, I got a ticket at a greatly reduced rate. The show was worth that rate. I'm glad I didn't pay full price.

Still to ponder: would there be an exhibit of art that would help me feel that I've been moved closer to God? Should a worship service be that kind of work of art? Is there just something wrong with me, that my intellect or my social justice consciousness gets in the way?

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