The Holy Land and the Arts
The Holy Land and the Arts, led by guest course leader, Dr. Barbara Drake Boehm (Paul and Jill Ruddock Curator Emerita, The Met Cloisters, New York), is a study pilgrimage integrating two primary foci: (1) Complimented by on-site visits to corresponding sites and landscapes, the course explores how Western art has depicted events of Christian scriptures (the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament), including Jesus’ nativity stories, his baptism in the Jordan River, his Galilee ministry, and Holy Week events culminating in his crucifixion and resurrection; (2) Recognizing the contributions, past and present, of the three Abrahamic faiths to the Land of the Holy One, the course engages the rich legacy of historical art and architecture which the land has preserved from the Jewish, Christian, and Muslim traditions. It likewise highlights the role of women in the Holy Land (e.g., the daughters of Jerusalem).
A transformational journey of faith, The Holy Land and the Arts incorporates classroom lectures, on-site visits, a residential pilgrim community, the voices of others, prayer, worship, and personal time and reflection. The course includes a three-day, two-night excursion to the Galilee.
The Aims of The Holy Land and the Arts
- To explore the themes and meanings of biblical stories and the events of salvation through site visits and the study of their corresponding depictions in Western art.
- To encounter the legacy of historical artistic expressions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam in the Holy Land.
- To encounter sites that excite the religious imagination of Christians, Jews, and Muslims.
- To explore the history of Jerusalem throughout the centuries, including Byzantine-era, Islamic, and Crusader art and architecture.
- To explore expressions of the image of Jerusalem, both past and present.
- To reflect on the spiritual power of religious imagery and the role that artists play in mediating our response to the sacred.
- To engage with the Living Stones of the Land of the Holy One.
- To be transformed and renewed in faith through the media of sacred art and images as well as the voices of others, personal reflection, and the lived experience of a pilgrim community.
The Course Program
While including Jewish and Muslim sites and speakers, the course incorporates a ‘footsteps of Jesus’ framework. The program includes site visits to locations associated with Jesus’ nativity (e.g., the annunciation, visitation, and nativity), the Jordan River and the Judean Wilderness (e.g., baptism, temptation, wilderness), Nazareth and the Sea of Galilee, as well as multiple days in Jerusalem. Attention will be given to the Haram esh-Sharif, or the Temple Mount, in Jerusalem. The course will also include: at least one site beyond Jerusalem associated with the building projects of King Herod the Great, Byzantine-era mosaics and synagogues (e.g., Sepphoris), the mosaics of Hisham’s Palace (Jericho), Orthodox churches, Christian monasteries, and a visit to a mosque and a synagogue. The course may include an indoor visit to the Dome of the Rock as well as trips to Nablus (Jacob’s Well), Hebron (the tomb of Abraham), and the Chagall windows in Jerusalem.
Guest Course Leader
Dr Barbara Drake Boehm is the Paul and Jill Ruddock Senior Curator for The Cloisters of The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Dr Boehm’s research focuses on the intersection of creativity and faith. In 2016–17, she was the co-curator with Dr Melanie Holcombe on the Met’s exhibition, Jerusalem, 1000–1400: Every People Under Heaven, which explored the key role Jerusalem played in shaping the art and culture of the Middle Ages. They co-edited a book under the same title (Yale University Press, 2016), which complements the St George’s course.
Her additional exhibitions at the Met include Prague: The Crown of Bohemia; Choirs of Angels: Painting in Italian Choir Books, 1300–1500; Enamels of Limoges, and Prayer Book for a Queen: The Hours of Jeanne d’Evreux. She was also the co-curator of the exhibition series, Medieval Jewish Art in Context. Beyond the Met, Dr Boehm contributed to Treasures of Heaven: Saints, Relics and Devotion in Medieval Europe (Cleveland, Baltimore, London). A graduate of Wellesley College, Dr Boehm received her PhD from the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University.
The Revd Rodney Aist, PhD, the course director at St George’s College, will be the facilitator and co-leader of the course. A pilgrimage and Holy Land scholar, his interests include the religious imagination of the holy sites and Jerusalem pilgrimage past and present.