• Visual Cultures of the World

  • In certain times and places remarkable visual cultures arise.  Our programs look at three of these cultures, examining not only the art--but also people's relationship to the images.  "Russian Icons Revealed" shows how holy images play a primary role in Eastern Christian churches as well as personal devotions. "Painted Prayers" focuses on the important role illustrated prayer books had in Western Europe during the late medieval and early Renaissance periods.  And "The Book of Kells" focuses on a magnificent example of medieval Celtic illumination and what it tells us about the monks that preserved Christianity during the Dark Ages.  In each of these cases, we discuss how creativity and visual meditation plays an important role.

  • The Spirit of Japanese Beauty and Design

  • A 3-part class in contemplative aesthetics.  We look at various Zen-related arts, learn about the philosophical roots of their aesthetics, and explore how those ideas might enhance our own lives.  Our cultural touchstones are the Japanese tea ceremony, stone gardens, and brush painting.  Along the way we also dip into other artistic expressions like ceramics, flower arranging, and calligraphy.

  • Russian Icons Revealed

  • Are you curious about icons? If you've felt drawn to the beauty and contemplative qualities of icons but know little about them, this workshop is for you. Come explore icons and how they are used for devotions in Russian churches and sacred spaces. Become better acquainted with the visual language of Russian icons. Learn about Eastern Christian spirituality and how to meditate with icons.

  • The Celtic Book of Kells

  • An beautifully illustrated introduction to a celebrated masterwork of medieval book illumination. It's an opportunity to get acquainted with and see in detail the ancient book that is visited by over a half million people every year in Dublin, Ireland. Learn about the manuscript's creation in the scriptoriums of Celtic monasteries. Hear the story of the theft and rediscovery of this precious treasure.  Along the way we'll explore the important roles that manuscripts like the Book of Kells served in in medieval church life--from power symbol to focus for meditations.  Special attention will be paid to the magnificent painted illuminations that amplify the gospel message of the Book of Kells.  We'll explore their multi-cultural sources and how their thoughtful placement contributed to the book's design.  And we'll zero in on the symbolism and meaning of selected images, motifs, and abstract patterns.  Find out how you can incorporate the Book of Kells into your own meditations!

  • Painted Prayers: Illuminated Books of Hours of Old Europe

  • An illustrated slide talk on the exquisitely beautiful late medieval/early Renaissance Books of Hours. We consider the content, social context, physical production, and use of these books in individual prayer and visual meditation. Enjoy an abundance of wonderful images while you learn how these personalized prayer books enabled laypeople to imitate monastic spiritual practice and develop new forms of spirituality independent of the church.