On a recent Sunday afternoon, I walked through the dimly lit galleries at the Indianapolis Museum of Art on a docent-led tour with two friends, the docent’s wheelchair-bound mother, and an ASL interpreter even though none among us was deaf. We stopped at a dozen or so pieces, mostly paintings, depicting various Christian saints, and one by one the docent explained the historical context, the artist’s technique, and the symbolic attributes of the composition. We looked at Tiffany stained glass, Romanesque frescoes, Tuscan altarpieces, and various triptychs that once had graced the European cathedrals of centuries past.
Having been through these same galleries before on my own—and having taken similar tours in the past where some of these exact paintings had been featured—I had become very familiar with the artwork. So, too, with the stories behind several of the pieces. I knew the Angel of the Resurrection Tiffany window had been commissioned by the widow of President Benjamin Harrison. I remembered the painstaking process of removing the frescoes from the Spanish cathedral and shipping them across the Atlantic. I recognized the familiar haloes over the heads of the saints.CONTINUE READING @THE CURATOR