You are here

Object Narratives explicate religious images, objects, monuments, buildings, or spaces in 1500 words or less.

Conversations

MAVCOR began publishing Conversations: An Online Journal of the Center for the Study of Material and Visual Cultures of Religion in 2014. In 2017 we selected a new name, MAVCOR Journal. Articles published prior to 2017 are considered part of Conversations and are listed as such under Volumes in the MAVCOR Journal menu.

  • M. Shobhana Xavier
    An ethnically and religiously diverse spiritual community near Philadelphia founded by a Tamil teacher from Sri Lanka.
  • M. Shobhana Xavier
    The role material culture has played in the introduction of non-Christian forms of spirituality into the United States as examined through Sufi art.
  • Gregory Price Grieve
    What does a virtual meditation cushion tell us about material and visual cultures of religion?
  • Stephanie Bilinksy
    Ex-votos at the Shrine of St. Roch occupy a complex place within conceptions of New Orleans as the subject of Protestant fascination with exoticized material aspects of Catholic practice.
  • Eleanor A. Laughlin
    The carte-de-visite of Maximilian von Habsburg’s shirt satisfied a sensational interest in the political event and served as a mourning object, offering the living both visual and tactile connections to the deceased to aid in the grieving process.
  • Breanne Robertson
    Utah artist George Martin Ottinger painted Aztec Maiden during the last quarter of the nineteenth century, when numerous theories proliferated about the history and origins of indigenous American civilizations.
  • Emily Engel
    Material objects, including a group of documentary paintings of Our Lady of Cocharcas, recall the processes by which ancient Andean pilgrimage traditions became deeply integrated into late-colonial socio-religious consciousness.
  • Frederick John Lamp
    What is the meaning of the word "spirit" in Africa?
  • Lindsay Reckson
    Early debates around the use of the electric chair pivoted on the convergence of state and divine power.
  • Cristina Cruz González
    Nun's badges worn in colonial New Spain not only articulated a woman’s religious affiliations, family fortune, and ethnic purity but also expressed her desire to influence political opinion.
  • Anne Grant
    The t-shirt’s appropriation of a multinational sportswear corporation’s logo into a sacred Hebrew name for God could be simply a clever play on words, but a more critical approach might take into account the commodification of this sacred name for the deity and its subsequent selling in the marketplace for profit.
  • Nathan Rees
    Although LDS doctrine esteemed Native Americans as literal descendants of the peoples of the Book of Mormon, relations between Mormons and Indians in Utah grew increasingly strained as resources became scarce. Christensen’s work reflects this divided perspective.
  • Crispin Paine
    The portable altar seems to have developed in the missionary world of the seventh century, to meet the Church's requirement that Mass be celebrated only on a consecrated altar—a requirement that strengthened the position of bishops, who alone could consecrate them.
  • Akela Reason
    In his 1880 The Crucifixion, Thomas Eakins, a reputed agnostic, crafted a realist interpretation of one of the central devotional subjects in Christian art, challenging the traditional iconography of the crucifixion by eliminating all signs of divine presence.
  • Sally M. Promey
    Visibly claiming to regulate the prescribed Christian imitation of the biblical figures they represented, late-nineteenth and early-twentieth century statues of light-complexioned religious figures populated domestic spaces, churches, and missions fields, and implied that looking like Jesus or Mary or John might be more “natural” or “complete” for some than for others.
  • Camara Dia Holloway
    During the Harlem Renaissance, mother and child portraits and figure studies were especially popular in the African American media, signaling the importance placed on motherhood and the nurturing of future generations.
  • Andrea Pappas
    Strong, gestural markings in the central red band distinguish this painting from Rothko’s other mature works. This anomaly consists of long, gently undulating lines formed by gouging the surface of the paint all the way to the canvas before it dried. Straining out from a central point, the horizontal lines contrast sharply with the fuzzy, indeterminate edges of the other elements of the painting.
  • Tim Barringer
    Ford Madox Brown’s allegory of labor in all its forms is the most ambitious Pre-Raphaelite painting of modern life and a profound meditation on the relationship between art, religion, and labor in Victorian society.
  • Petra ten-Doesschate Chu and Peter Ahr
    The internationally famous Danish sculptor Bertel Thorvaldsen (1789–1838) was asked to produce a series of colossal statues of Christ, John the Baptist, and the apostles for the new Neoclassical Vor Frue Kirke of Denmark. Of these, Christus (Christ) has become best-known. Copies of the sculpture, often true to size or even larger, can be found around the world.
  • Kristin Schwain
    Rolando Estévez Jordán, a visual artist, and Alfredo Zaldívar, a poet, co-founded Cuba’s Ediciones Vigía (Watchtower Editions) in 1985 to create an open forum for writers, musicians, and artists.
  • Rachel McBride Lindsey
    What photograph albums teach us about nineteenth-century viewing habits is that the reach of religion extended beyond compositionally “religious” subjects. Modes of beholding were often forms of religious practice that did not require a regulated rift between sacred and secular.
  • Sonia Hazard
    That “Protestants don’t have pictures” remains a common generalization. Yet in the early nineteenth century, nothing could be further from the truth. Protestant publishers like the nonsectarian American Tract Society (ATS) lavishly decorated their tracts with small but expressive printed illustrations.
  • Timothy Matovina
    No exact date is known for the founding in San Antonio, Texas, of the Capilla de Nuestro Señor de los Milagros (Chapel of the Lord of Miracles), or Capilla de los Milagros, as it is sometimes called. Visitors to the shrine and its central Christ image offer both their orations and material expressions of prayer.
  • Shira Brisman
    This object is an example of a type of small-scale Christian moveable-part medieval sculpture called a Vierge Ouvrante (“Opening Virgin”).
  • Jennifer Scheper Hughes
    Each year, certain special religious images are ceremonially brought from Mexico and Central America to visit Catholic devotional communities in Southern California. These devotional statues of Catholic saints are “imágenes peregrinas,” pilgrim or traveling images.
  • Emily Gephart
    Two maidens, one bright and one shadowy, lead an ox through a curiously dense, shallow, and cubistically-fragmented woodland, heading (one presumes) through the titular sacramental trees and towards an uncertain destination.
  • Tamara I. Sears
    Hovering above the central courtyard of a Hindu monastery at the rural central-Indian village of Chandrehe was once a set of finely sculpted flying celestials, known within their original, tenth-century context as gandharvas, heavenly singers in the court of the gods, or vidya-dharas, meaning “carriers of truth.”
  • Michelle C. Wang
    Avalokiteshvara, one of the most important bodhisattvas in Buddhism, was popularly known as the “perceiver of the world’s cries.” Bodhisattvas, meaning literally “enlightened beings,” were devoted, out of a deep sense of compassion, to aiding other sentient beings in their quest for enlightenment, even to the point of postponing their own entry into nirvana.
  • Annette Stott
    In the summer of 1900, Denver acquired an unusual sculpture to mark the last resting place of pioneer attorney Vincent Daniel Markham (1826-1895) and his wife Mary (ca. 1834-1893).
  • Maya Stanfield-Mazzi
    The Cathedral of Cuzco, Peru holds several liturgical ornaments from the Spanish colonial period in its treasury. Among them is a magnificent embroidered miter, the headdress worn by bishops for blessings, baptisms, and processions.
  • Birgit Meyer
    During a trip to Ghana in May 2010, I visited the roadside shop and atelier of painter Kwame Akoto, alias “Almighty,” a name he adopted so as to praise the power of God.
  • A.T. Coates
    Clarence Larkin’s dispensationalist chart “Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth” (1920) offers a detailed schematic of biblical history. The artistic product of an individual with experience in mechanical draftsmanship, Larkin’s chart shows how events and epochs fit together like parts in a salvation machine.
  • Elena Kravchenko
    Icons move. They cross national borders and traditional boundaries. They show up in the least expected places.
  • Winston Kyan
    The integration of “secular” figures into a Buddhist cave complicates the separation established by both medieval Chinese authors and modern scholars of Buddhist art between practices of familial commemoration and religious devotion.
  • Mia Mochizuki
    “Why, some people may lose their faith looking at that picture!” Dostoyevsky famously had his fictional character Prince Myshkin exclaim over Hans Holbein the Younger’s Dead Christ Entombed.
  • Maura Coughlin
    Skull boxes that both memorialized a dead individual and displayed the deceased person’s skull were made in Brittany from the eighteenth century to about 1900.

Pages