If you haven’t been to Heaven yet, you’ve still got time. No need to bother St. Peter, however—simply pop into the Legacy Art Gallery Downtown for the final week of the exhibit Windows Into Heaven: Religious Icons from the Permanent Collection.
Running through to Saturday, August 9, Windows Into Heaven is a result of the graduate research of History in Art MFA and exhibit co-curator Regan Shrumm.
Featuring Christian Orthodox icons and crucifixes from the permanent collection of the Legacy Gallery, this exhibition examines religious, historical, and cultural meanings past and present. “A lot of people don’t know what icons are or what they’re used for,” says Shrumm, who originally started exploring the Legacy’s collection for the Jamie Cassels Undergraduate Research Award in 2012.
Frequent readers of this blog may well remember Shrumm’s name as the winner of the 2013 Victoria Medal—awarded annually to the student with the highest GPA in the Faculty of Fine Arts. Describing her as “a remarkable student” with “a lively, vibrant spark,” History in Art chair Dr. Catherine Harding noted Shrumm “made these precious items come alive through her focus on their materiality and their special relationship to other artistic traditions, such as the close visual connections between Greek Byzantine and Russian religious culture.”
Windows Into Heaven is co-curated HIA professor and recently appointed Associate Dean of Fine Arts, Dr. Evanthia Baboula, who also led Shrumm’s directed studies course which led to the creation of this popular exhibit. Over a hundred people turned out for the curator’s talk and tour back in April, showing the continuing interest in this kind of religious iconography.
The 18th and 19th century icons—created from egg tempera, enamel and silver metalwork—are from the eastern Christian tradition and show how religious imagery maintained a central role in orthodox Christianity. Many of the icons are from the donated collection of Dr. Bruce and Mrs. Dorothy Brown.
Icons were venerated in churches, private homes or during a journey to provide protection to body and spirit. Images of saints, Christ and the Virgin that date back to the Byzantine tradition, the medieval empire of Constantinople, are also a concrete remnant of how the religious communities of imperial Russia built on these traditions to create a recognizable, yet distinctive and lively art.
“The icons in this exhibition are similar in age and importance to others found in major galleries and museums worldwide, including the Metropolitan Museum, the British Museum, and the Ashmolean,”
Windows Into Heaven must close on August 9 at the Legacy Art Gallery Downtown, 630 Yates. Admission is free and the gallery is open 9am to 4pm Wednesday to Saturday.