The Lives of Things (2014-2015)
Medieval art is usually displayed as stone fragments that float against white walls. These works of art, once part of brightly painted portals and church facades, are now displayed as isolated and aestheticized events, completely detached from their original setting and usually with no traces of the original color, as the bright paint disappeared centuries ago. Although small labels provide some information for each object, these usually make no attempt to inform the public that the fragments were part of the sumptuous decorative programs of important cathedrals such as Notre-Dame in Paris or Chartres. Can we realistically expect museum visitors to be able to make any sense out of these “floating objects”?
The Brummer Apostles at the Nasher Museum of Art, which date from the 12th century, are part of a larger composition that once decorated the façade of a medieval church in southern France. Traces of paint indicate that these figures were once painted. This project team researched the role of polychromy in medieval religious sculpture; gathered information about medieval pigments, patterns and garments; and created an interactive display for the museum setting to communicate information about the apostles’ material history and polychromy that is not apparent in the current form. Team members developed an interactive app for use on a tablet interface. The app allows museum visitors to paint with light by selecting areas of stonework and applying color; the selected colors are projected onto the sculptures.
Medieval Color Comes to Light. Mariano Tepper, Mark Olson, Caroline Bruzelius, Guillermo Sapiro, Lex Butler, Alexandra Dodson, Sinan Goknur, Amanda Lazarus, Jordan Hashemi, Max Symuleski, Christopher Tralie, Nan Yi. 2015. Durham, NC: Nasher Museum of Art.
Interactive app for the Brummer Apostles
Medieval Color Comes to Light (website)
The Lives of Things: The Brummer Apostles at the Nasher Museum of Art (poster by Alexandra Dodson, Jordan Hashemi, Amanda Lazarus, Max Symuleski)
This Team in the News
I have been fortunate to work alongside art historians and visual studies experts. Our team has been bringing together new technology with medieval art to create educational and interactive exhibits for museum visitors. One project deployed in the Nasher Museum of Art involves letting visitors ‘paint’ medieval statues that have lost their color. Visitors can digitally paint the statues, and we are able to project the colors onto the statues as if they are actually painted. My advice to other graduate students is to take advantage of this unique opportunity to work alongside experts and teachers across multiple domains. –Jordan Hashemi
- Caroline Bruzelius, Arts & Sciences-Art, Art History, and Visual Studies
- Mark Olson, Arts & Sciences-Art, Art History, and Visual Studies
- Guillermo Sapiro, Pratt School of Engineering-Electrical & Computer Engineering
/yfaculty/staff Team Members
Kristin Huffman, Arts & Sciences-Art, Art History, and Visual Studies
/zcommunity Team Members
Nasher Museum of Art