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Art History 101: Icons of Western Art


"A number of artists evoke the art of the Renaissance. For Sandra Bowden, the sources are often masters of 14th and 15th century Italian art and the subject is the Madonna and Child. Bowden uses gold, traditionally a symbol of the divine, as the ground upon which she inscribes the outlines of the Madonna and Child. There is a delicacy in these “unfinished” figures that results in a modern image that evokes the artistic past without illustrating it."

Rev. Terry Dempsey, Director Museum of Contemporary Religious Art from his essay Highly Favored: Contemporary Images of the Virgin Mary

Exhibition description

This exhibition is designed to celebrate the history of art by helping us see from a little different perspective.

The goal is for the viewer to identify the 40 untitled pieces in the collection. What is its title and who is the artist? Each is a delicate translation in line and gold, recreating them as "icons" from the canon of western art. Arranged chronologically the paintings and sculpures span nearly 2500 years of history and represent some of the most beloved works in western civilization.

Art History 101: Icons of Western Art is an interactive exhibition, a quiz, so to speak, a kind of exam in art history. Looking is required, cheating is permitted and collaboration is encouraged.

Some pieces are easily identified—freebies. Others are more challenging in their familiarity. Since this is an open book exam, the show comes with a series of art history books that are placed in the middle of the room. Participants are encouraged to consult the art books to help idendify the works.


Each historical piece was carefully reproduced in silhouette form, painted on Twinrocker May Linen, a feather deckled hand made paper. Iridescent Craypas was applied to the painted area and thin sheets of 22 carat German gold leaf then layered onto the surface. Finally the original image is drawn using pencil, stylus, etching points or anything that will incise the somewhat soft layers of gold. Lines extend through and beyond the frame of the piece giving an almost architectural setting for the work. These lines many times give clues to the formal design and structure of the original work.


The exhibition of 36 framed pieces is shipped in three wooden crates. There is a charge of $250 for this exhibition which can be applied toward the purchase of art. Each venue is responsible for shipping.

For more information or to book a show click here.