Friday, October 31, 2008
Symbols in Art
This week in my New Testament class we had a presentation on the religious art in the BYU museum of art. We talked about symbolism and the importance of understanding symbols.
As I looked at the different paintings, I took a little more time to observe different details and to look for symbolism. I found the experience to be pretty rewarding. There's so much to get out of an artwork, especially religious artworks, if you take the time to study them.
When I was looking at this particular piece by John Rogers Herbert R.A. titled Our Savior subject to his parents at Nazareth, I noticed something I hadn't noticed before. The pieces of wood in the center are arranged in the shape of a cross and Mary looks as though she has just realized something. Maybe she is thinking of Jesus' divine mission. Jesus is holding what appears to be an empty basket. This reminds me of the miracle of Jesus feeding the five thousand with five loaves and having twelve baskets of bread left over. I'm not sure what the significance of the basket is in this case and I'm curious to know what the painter had in mind. I wonder, was Jesus aware of his mission at a young age? I think he probably was. In this painting he seems to be aware as he meekly performs his chores, growing up in Nazareth, preparing for his ultimate act of meekness and love: the atonement.