How do people give meaning to their lives and to the world around them? How do they make sense of what happens to themselves, to others?
By definition, belief systems are “a set of principles or tenets which together form the basis of a religion, philosophy, or moral code.” For the past several years, as part of its educational mission, the Richard F. Brush Art Gallery has acquired artworks and cultural artifacts that illustrate and explore different belief systems from around the world. As such, St. Lawrence University’s permanent collection can be integrated into the undergraduate, liberal arts curriculum for teaching and research in a variety of courses, including Art & Art History, Canadian Studies, Environmental Studies, Global Studies, Modern Languages, Philosophy, and Religious Studies, among others.
Objects in the exhibition interpret Judeo-Christian beliefs from the German Renaissance to present day, with works by Albrecht Dürer, William Blake, Georges Rouault, Marc Chagall, Rockwell Kent, Eric Avery, and others. By contrast, Tibetan Buddhist thangka scrolls, Jain manuscripts, and Hindu chakra paintings from southeast Asia illustrate the relationship between aesthetic expression and devotional practice, as do beaded flags and altarpieces from the Haitian vodou tradition. Works by Canadian Inuit, indigenous Amazonian, and Akwesasne Mohawk artists recognize the natural, spiritual, and supernatural worlds through paintings, prints, drawings, and textiles.
The exhibition is not intended to be comprehensive, but offers a window into some of the ways people have made meaning of their lives over time.
Special thanks to Caroline Welsh, art historian and exhibition co-curator, and McKael Barnes, SLU Class of 2020, gallery assistant.