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NIU art historian to speak on medieval art

April 3, 2012

Bernini angel sculpture in RomeThe NIU Art Museum will present “The Medieval Art of Narrative,” an illustrated lecture by Ann van Dijk at 5 p.m. Tuesday, April 10, in Altgeld Hall 315.

In the Middle Ages, narrative art was ubiquitous, appearing in a variety of media and contexts.

Painted narratives adorned the pages of books; mosaic narratives graced the walls of churches; embroidered or woven narratives decorated textiles; and narratives in such precious materials as gold, silver and ivory adorned a host of small-scale objects, both sacred and secular.

Van Dijk, an associate professor of art history, is a specialist in early Christian, Byzantine and medieval art, will address the following questions:

  • Why was visual story telling so popular?
  • According to Pope Gregory I (590-604), “a picture stands in place of writing” for those who cannot read, but were medieval narrative images merely a substitute for the written word?
  • Or did pictures have something unique to say, conveying meanings and interpretations impossible to express in words?

Van Dijk earned her B.A. from the University of Toronto and her M.A. and Ph.D. from the Johns Hopkins University.

Her research centers on the city of Rome during the medieval and early modern periods. Her interests include artistic relations between Rome and Byzantium, the use of art as a tool of papal self representation, and the perception of early Christian and medieval art during the Counter Reformation.

This lecture is presented in conjunction with the current Graphic Novel exhibitions and as a companion to the upcoming Get-On-The-Bus trip to the Newberry Library and the Chicago Cultural Center (Saturday, April 14; pre-registration required).

This lecture is free and open to the public. For more information, call (815) 753-1936.