Rockefeller illuminated

When campus is buried in snow, everyone could use a little color. Enlivening Rockefeller Chapel, artwork by Victoria Martin and Jessica Shapiro, MFA'06, is on display in conjunction with Cosmophilia, the Smart Museum's exhibition of Islamic art. According to the text accompanying Martin and Shapiro's work, the Islamic art chosen for Cosmophilia explores ornament through "writing, vegetal and arabesque forms, geometry, and figural imagery"—traits that inspired both artists.

It's clear how Martin's large oil-painted panels reflect that inspiration. All four integrate Koranic verses written in Arabic with English words and images of celestial objects, food, and body parts. Paradise depicts a giant, stylized pink pomegranate with the printed words "pomegranates and palm trees and fruit in both of them."

Shapiro's small mixed-media works are more intimate and much more abstract. Her pieces do, however, pick up the bright colors and patterns of Islamic art that can be seen in Martin's. From the hammock restless consists of rich red squares arranged on a black wash, intricately laced with decorative lines in pencil and ink.

In the late afternoon, the winter light illuminates the east transept where the artwork hangs. Two women with a noisy but cheerful baby peer upwards at Martin's bright panels. Later, three visitors from Chile explore the chapel, then head over to the Graduate School of Business. They want to see Milton Friedman's home turf.

Jenny Fisher, '07

7Heavens_churchTHUMB.jpg SevenHeavens_detailTHUMB.jpg FromthehammockrestlessTHUMB.jpg

Photos (left to right): Martin's Seven Heavens hangs beneath stained glass windows; detail from Seven Heavens; Shapiro's From the hammock restless.

February 19, 2007