The Grand Rapids Undergraduate Art History Symposium, 2015

This year, Calvin College has three students presenting papers at the annual Grand Rapids Undergraduate Art History Symposium. The event takes place at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park, on Friday, 10 April 2015. All three papers are scheduled for the morning session, running from 9:30 until 11:30. The event is free and open to the public.

Tim Marco, “Constantine and Christianity”

The eventful reign of Emperor Constantine (306–37) included the public introduction of Christianity into the Roman Empire and the transitional process by which it became the dominant religion of the ancient Mediterranean world. Theologians and historians have debated the reasons for Constantine’s interest in the Christian faith. Drawing on these sources, this paper considers the life of the emperor, specifically his conversion, his relationship to the Christian faith, and the art historical implications.

Madeline Koppendrayer, “Thomas Becket’s Bones: Late Twelfth-Century
Limoges Reliquaries of Thomas Becket”

The dramatic murder of Thomas Becket near the quire of Canterbury Cathedral, carried out by knights from the court of King Henry II in 1170, sparked international interest from religious pilgrims. Demand for relics skyrocketed and so did the demand for beautiful vessels to hold the venerated items associated with the archbishop’s body. The Limoges chasse, now in the collection of London’s Victoria and Albert Museum, depicts the murder and allows us to consider the role of images in the veneration of the bodies of medieval saints.

Julia Bouwkamp, “Observed Absences: Approaches to Holocaust Representation”

The late twentieth century witnessed a dramatic change in modes of artistic Holocaust representation, particularly in memorialization efforts. Faced with the difficulties of representing Holocaust victims and ques-tioning the appropriateness of triumphant monumental forms in light of Germany’s fascist past, artists initiated a new form of memorialization—namely, the counter-monument. Crucially, the counter-monument takes as a subject matter the absence of a Jewish presence in Germany. This paper explores how the counter-monument developed and how observations of absence are important for the struggle within contemporary art and architecture to represent the Holocaust.

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