Week 8: Museum of Russian Icons

August 24th, 2012

Henry Hundt ’13, Shroeder Fellow in Art

It has been nearly a week and some days since I left my home at the Museum of Russian Icons in Clinton, MA. I arrived last night back in Mount Vernon, Iowa, after a week at the homestead in Wisconsin where most things were as they should be. Alive, and growing. As I revisited friends and family around the campfire, I was asked about my reasons for leaving to study Russian icons in a small town in Massachusetts. Although usual responses about the art, books and Russian culture prevailed, I realized that was not the actual reason for turning east for the summer. Instead, it was nothing less then a curiosity in the human condition, and further, how this is relevant to our current global reality.

My last week was spent finishing up several projects with in the work on the Harrowing of Hell icons. This included writing up and sorting pages of notes I had on the schism of the church during the 17th century and the subsequent events in around the patriarchate. After applying the rest of the translations conducted by Raoul Smith of the Old Church Slavonic text found on the icon from Yaroslavl, we mobilized the updated project to an online platform. This way, I can continue to integrate some of the work I did this summer while also helping Raoul edit the final product which will result in the project being completed in a published form later in the fall into winter.

NH campsite during the trip back west

The study of the schism in the Russian Orthodox church, and the subsequent study of those icons that accompanied this antagonistic shift in Orthodox History very much gets at the nature of my interest in this topic and topics similar to it. What we saw unfold in front of our eyes at the museum, was a reality that was faced with a change that seemed to threaten its timeline. The Old Believers, faced with the actions by the State Church which endangered the fundamental aspects of what was true and false, sustained their reality through all means necessary, such as icons and, even death. I believe this, in its various mediums, is why it is important to study the history of art, the experience of religion and subsequently, this is what the patrons of the Museum of Russian Icons see in the devotional images displayed there.

The summer, now over, far exceeded my expectations. My thanks to Cornell College, Art History & Religion departments, Fellowship program and the Museum of Russian Icons (perhaps those interns as well). This is the first of (hopefully) many attempts to understand the diversity of truth.

End of Summer Partying

Week 7: Museum of Russian Icons

August 9th, 2012

Henry Hundt ’13, Shroeder Fellow in Art

It is becoming apparent that brokering the conclusion to a research project is more difficult then beginning one. As the final weeks are quickly drained of their time and energy, Raoul and I have begun to negotiate with the research paper we are working on. We have realized that the amount of material that we have amassed over the summer leaves us with a folio rather then a journal paper. With time short, we have decided to accomplish our original goal of identifying the provenance the devils while leaving the rest for a future undertaking.

My first task at the museum was working on the question of demon origins in a 17th century icon of the Anastasis. This is still the primary question which the paper will answer, however, the process offered more material related to the icon then originally intended. To be fair, the unusual nature of the entire icon composition was the original attraction of the project, and I am not surprised by the complexity of the answers. What was not anticipated was how much had not been discussed in previous related studies. This was both exciting and daunting.

Some of the additional questions deal with the primary icons relationship to three other icons which bare astounding resemblance to the icon that we are focusing on. The three additional icons, all relating to Descent and Resurrection narrative, where located by Raoul over the course of the project. One is here at the museum, and the two additional icons are located in Russia. Together, these four icons each harbor an unusual combination of the specific motifs and styles.

Another favorite area in the Museum of Russian Icons–The Collections

One example is how the walls of paradise, located at the top of the icons, are depicted. The scene is important to the general narrative of the Harrowing of Hell because it is in paradise where the freed spirits (Mankind) and Christ are reunited.  Usually the walls of paradise use a combination of Russian architecture and imaginative medieval walls. However, in these icons, a strict geometrical pattern is followed. The barrier is reminiscent of the Sacred Garden of Mary tradition or the Eden descriptions. What can be said with more certainty is that these four icons where created within close temporal space of one another. These are some of the questions that are being left to a larger project, however, every step we take now is the same distance covered for the secondary project.

As I enter my final week I am attempting to be efficient as I can in hopes that I can leave Raoul in a position to add the final details. As I begin to finish at the Museum of Russian Icons and am also well aware of the beginning of the end of my Cornell experience. Both endings have a sobering affect on my anticipation for them. However, I have found a solution to this form melancholy: visiting Providence, RI, to see fantastic live music and the majestic Brown university. A comparable scene to the Mount Vernon Hill, I must say.

Providence Performing Arts Theater

Week 6: Museum of Russian Icons

August 2nd, 2012

Henry Hundt ’13, Shroeder Fellow in Art

The liberal arts, and therefore Cornell College, has come under increasing pressure in recent years. The critics of higher education have begun to call the approach misdirected and superfluous for a world that is becoming increasingly globalized by technology. What we need, they say, is process streamlined by powerful computational devices allowing for the greatest progress possible; the biggest bang for your buck. This question came up during the week as I pressed forward with my research Fellowship at the Museum of Russian Icons, and at one point in particular, was especially thankful for the processes gleaned from the  liberal arts.

The moment in question came during an early afternoon break from research when I picked up a copy of Dostoyevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov in a search for the parable The Grand Inquisitor because the topic had just come up in conversation. The parable, in a gist, is a conversation between Christ and the Spanish Grand Inquisitor which consists of ideas about human nature and the freedom of men’s souls in the age of a Christ-less church. As I read the first page I noticed a translation citation after a passage were Dostoyevsky character referenced an apocryphal text Apocalypse of the Holy Mother of God. Abandoning my colleagues, I checked the note. The citation explained that the text in question was a popular Slavic translation developed from a Greek text of the 11th century, which in turn had come from a non-extant 5-6th century version. The citation continued to explain that the apocryphal narrative described Mother Mary’s descent into hell guided by the angel Michael as Mary observed the damned. I had recalled mention of the Greek text when studying at Cornell but had never read the document, however, here at the museum, the text nor the translation had ever been identified. The question is, what are the implications of one text in a sea of sermons and documents available to the medieval and early modern iconographer?

You will recall that I have been working with Prof. Raoul Smith on a couple icons depicting Harrowing of Hell dated circa 17th century as apart of a larger study on icons of the Raskol. Usually the descent scene of Christ in the bowls of the underworld have direct relation to a different, more prominent non-canonical descent narrative called the Apocryphal of Nicodemus. However, the scholarship that accompanies the apocryphal of Mary suggests that it was not as arcane as the scenario might seem. The author of the scholarship examined twenty different versions that dated between fifteenth and nineteenth centuries, and this obviously excludes all early development which the text underwent as it was translated from Greek to its Slavic form.

To have another source from which to examine possible visual dictation on icons is tremendous. The narrative, because of its content, can be used to compare against descent scenes, eschatological revelations, hellish images of torture and devils in general (I have not describe the exact details of the apocryphal of Mother Mary because of its length, see here for a decent translation: http://the-apocalypse-of-the-holy-mother.blogspot.com/). All these topics are being focused on because of there relation to the Harrowing of Hell and icons of Raskol in general.

The method by which we were able to identify the primary source was an unusual one, however, I would argue a very liberal arts approach (if this example can be understood as an approach). Yes, at this point every form of education must be scrutinized as the college debt crisis becomes more prominent with each generation, and the modern world requires new forms of globalized education. However, this does not mean the elimination of the liberal arts. It has existed and continues to exist because of one reason, it is effect. This cannot be forgotten.

Week 5: Museum of Russian Icons

July 27th, 2012

Henry Hundt ’13, Shroeder Fellow in Art

Progress and productivity are synonymous with activities which can be labeled as ‘work’, through various actions can be assigned these qualities. In the classroom it is focus and creativity which result in the production of quality scholastic work in the context of the class group. Another example is in agriculture, however, what is defined as ‘progress’ and ‘productivity’ answers to a broader criteria. As I move forward with my Fellowship research at the Museum of Russian Icons, I am beginning to learn how progress is understood in a professional academic setting, and how my area of focus, Russian Orthodox icons, offers another answer to the question of what progress is (further discussion of this topic: The Human Condition by Hannah Arendt).

As I mentioned last week, I have been focusing on seventeenth century Orthodox icons and the contemporary religious and secular culture in Russia. One direction which I am looking is of the possible reaction, revelation or inciting qualities of the icon tradition in the context of changes occurring in Russia. The imagery in question is related to the antagonistic 17th century antichrist proclamations and eschatological professions (see previous posts concerning basic info on the Old Believers).

Working Conditions

Traditionally speaking I would argue against a reaction of icon artists to current affairs. Icons are sacred objects with traditions that date back to the time of Christ through legends such as St. Luke the Evangelist creating an image of Mary and Christ child, a story that followed in the same tradition as the Shroud of Turin. Orthodoxy, especially in Russia, was and is one of sound tradition. Faith and ritual were directly linked to their Greek forebearers however still retaining a Russian heritage.

However, when there is a disagreement of faith, and when church authorities take sides, changes in dogma and practice can shift dramatically in relatively short periods of time. As Paul Bushkovitch states in Religion & Society in Russia, “The argument of this book is that the two centuries before Peter was a period of considerable and rapid change within that religious culture. Fundamentally these changes reflected a shift in religious experience from one basically public and collective, which stressed liturgy and miracle cults, to a more private and personal faith with a strong stress on morality.” As I begin to understand the spirit of the antagonistic Old Believers and the opposing Nikonians (as the state church is often titled), I hope to expose different traditions of icon imagery and object association. I will be relying on the importance of the faith’s heritage in addition to the contemporary culture coming internally and externally.

The religious transformations in religious contexts have a different relationship to the concept of progress than previously discussed. As I am learning what is required to create new knowledge of physical objects and past events, I also happen to be studying a very profound perspective on progress–the Orthodox faith. I am well prepared to address these issues from lessons I have learned at Cornell College. The block plan helps synthesize perspectives and promotes diversity to cultivate creative solutions. As I re-associate myself to progress in general, what is necessary to accomplish the goals set fourth for this Fellowship experience have been previously offered within the relative Departments of Art History and Religious Studies at Cornell.

Week 4: Museum of Russian Icons

July 18th, 2012

Henry Hundt ’13, Shroeder Fellow in Art

After a week hiatus of touring east coast museums, I have returned to my research after hitting the halfway point in my Fellows experience. At this point I had originally intended an exposé of four different museums contrasted with the institution that I work, the Museum of Russian Icons. However due to the journalistic approach which I fell into as I wrote up my experience, I realized that what I had manifested on paper was more of a critique rather than a reflection and would be less suitable for this blog. That is why here I will cover both my Northeast Atlantic Museum tour and last week’s research updates.

The week of our nations day of patriotism was for me a week of national cultural heritage. Due to several technicalities in both my Fellowship and museum schedules, I found myself with a week at my disposal. Over the course of five hundred miles and a fist full of museum stubs I was able to visit four of the many art institutions from Boston to New York. I began my tour in Boston on a Saturday when I visited the MFA, which is the largest museum in the area boasting a collection of over 450,000 works. This amount of art requires at a minimum three or more visits before a patron would be able to make it through the collection in a respectful manner without passing out in a sarcophagi. I believe that this is one of the primary reasons for the misdirected pretension that is often assigned to fine art venues; the experience of visiting the MFA is like trying to read War & Peace with several hundred people looking over your shoulder. This being said, the collection was fantastic. Besides the museums holdings, a traveling show of Renoir’s Dancers offered an abundance of color and a rare picture of the modern icon’s oeuvre. Renoir was engaging and offered insight into the artist’s contemporary social elite.

MFA Boston Impressionist Gallery

The following Sunday and Monday was allotted for a night of camping on the beaches of the Atlantic and a day of farming in the hills of New York. Both experiences offered a relief from the smog of the city. I arrived in Elizabeth, New Jersey on Tuesday where I was graciously hosted for the remainder of the trip by Russell Borenstein-Burd, a Cornell grad from this years class. It was because of Russell and his incredible family that I was able to affordably spend the week in and around NYC.

Guggenheim Museum, New York City

The Fourth of July was spent walking the eccentric Wright spiral of the Guggenheim Museum that resulted in one of the most memorable art experiences to date. Adjusting for the angle, Russell and myself spent four or so hours becoming equated with American and European postwar artists who triumphed the truth of abstraction and expression which left me engaging, retracting and in the end being convinced of excellence. At one point we came upon a few works by Karel Appel, a Dutch artist and one of the founding and most successful members of the art group CoBrA (Copenhagen, Brussels, Amsterdam). What makes this artist so important to two Cornell students is because the college owns one of Appel’s finest works, a true abstract-expressive gem located on the hill moated in corn. Earlier this year I spent a month researching the works finer points and was convinced of the objects worth in the Appel legacy. The project will hopefully be shared with the school at some point and in turn exposing the community to one of the finest teachings tools at Cornell.

Inside Guggenheim Museum

The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) on the following day was another massive and impressive collection. I had an interest in the overall experience of museums so I walked the majority of the complex however spent most of my time in the permanent modern display. For the most part, the museum was crowded and space was sparse giving a feeling of a large rural antique barn. Another curious characteristic of the museums of display design was how the curators decided which works received greater prominence in the museum. A very intriguing paper (forwarded to me by Prof. Christina Penn-Goetsch) authored by Carol Duncan titled “MoMA’s Hot Mamas” offers a negative interpretation of MoMA’s halls. Duncan’s argument focuses around gender stereotypes being encouraged and propagated by the male prominent art work displayed from the museums permanent collection. By offering the greatest amount of visibility to male artists such as Picasso, Pollock and de Kooning who’s work often portrays scathing depiction of woman, the museum is defining the art world as male courted activity. Woman are neither empowered to enter the art scene nor to patron the art in anyway, while always becoming the object of mens fantasies on canvas. The article continues to elaborate on the theme of gender and museums and reveals some interesting conclusions. My visit to the museum was, however, worth the time spent inside.

A scene from Carol Duncan's discussion of the MoMA

After a day of surfing in the Atlantic with Russell and current Cornell student Julia Karvel ’14 which was followed by a dinner theater performance of Chekhov’s Three Sisters in Brooklyn directed by Lily Burd, I was ready for one last museum visit. Because of time constraints, The Whitney Museum of American Art had to be seen in a short two hours. Even so, I found the Whitney to be a breath of fresh air after the MoMA visit. Gallery space was used liberally allowing the art often to sit alone with the patron instead competing with the various objects strewn across the gallery space. Interestingly enough, the Whitney will be moving to the Meatpacking district in downtown Manhattan in a few years. It is to be hoped that the curatorial trend will continue for this institution into the new location, offering patrons a sense of the arts individual spirit.  This was last stop on my tour of museums and on the following Sunday I returned to my home in Worcester.

Throughout my trip one thing did not happen, that is, I never began to doubt the effectiveness of the Museum of Russian Icons. The small size, the precise collection and the active employs generate an intimate and unpretentious experience for patrons. Intimacy seems to be one of the central tenants of a prime museum art experience and the MRI is sure to offer that quality.

The Grand Piano and a Decent scene at MRI

This last week at the MRI has offered a great deal of excitement. As I began to pursue independent research in the icon field, my interest in 17th century Russian icons continued beyond my work with Professor Raoul Smith. I covered some material concerning Orthodoxy in Russia during this period of the regions history in previous posts however; I am now shifting to revelation and eschatological themes in icon production. The topic of end times and second coming of Christ was a popular because of the reaction against Patriarch Nikon’s Reforms under Tsar Alexis. The prevalent belief among many Old Believers was that it was the spirit or even the physical manifestation of the antichrist that caused the reforms to be enacted. The believe in the coming reign of the Lord and subsequent destruction of earth even lead to mass self-immolations of entire villages for fear of becoming inflicted by the antichrist’s minions.

As I move towards CO-authorship of a paper on this topic, I am reminded of my experiences at Cornell College working closely with faculty on research projects. Because of these experiences, I have been able to work well with Professor Smith as he helps introduce me to the process of professional journal research writing just as Professor Penn-Goetsch did the same to foundational work in Art History. Soon I will be returning to Iowa to write two substantial thesis projects for the Art History and Religion departments. After this summer is complete, I will have a much better understanding of what is required to accomplish these projects.

Week 3: Museum of Russian Icons

July 4th, 2012

Henry Hundt ’13, Shroeder Fellow in Art

Weeks, now sadly progressing like days, are increasingly stimulating and rewarding. Though the general activities offered little variance in form, I did spent much of the week in a sea of unknown content. The last several days of the week were also laced with a potent amount of expectation, as I had planned (and am now executing) a week long tour of east coast museums.

The past week was spent researching texts in the context of the icons at the Museum though at times this order was reversed and I looked for icons to explain a primary source translation. This brings up a fundamental question which I had been in someways anticipating though had yet to have a chance to grapple with. That question is what relationship the object has to its contemporary culture, and vice versa. For example, take a situation were we have a work of art which for the most part is relatively unexplained and it has very little explanation of patronage and other essential information. However, there exists texts with contextual similarities offering us a series of solutions to our questions. At his point does the scholar use the texts to explain the work or the object to explain the texts? In some cases it is less of a question and the solution is understood, however much of the time the student of history has a small battle to be fought over which direction to take.

Even though the problem above usually confronts students later in their studies, I was lucky enough to have some discussions in the topic—both directly and indirectly—with Cornell faculty. Having a faint understanding of my own scholastic future has given me an advantage as I progress further into my studies of Russian icons and art history in general.

My update this week will be short as I am on the road traversing the East Coast cultural institutions. In the coming week I will be conducting a review of 6-8 museums and will be comparing my findings to the museum which I am working, the Museum of Russian Icons.

MFA Boston

Week 2: Museum of Russian Icons

June 27th, 2012

Henry Hundt ’13, Shroeder Fellow in Art

By the end of my second week of work at the Museum of Russian Icons, I began to notice how young this organization really is. Entering into its sixth year of operation, the institution and its parts are now revealing the excitement of its youth. Constant movement, expansion, and energy are more applicable in describing this institution than tradition and routine, two general stereotypes of museum culture. Oddly, this is by nature juxtaposed to the art the museum houses.

Above the Entrance to the Museum

By the end of the week I had accomplished several tasks and had begun several more. My research work for Professor Raoul Smith concerning the nature demon iconography in 17th century Yaroslavl icons came, for the most part, to a close. The conclusion was that the primary source of influence came from a folk print form called lubok. The lubok style became prominent around the second half of the sixteen hundreds and was triumphed among rural communities because of its inexpensive production. The style itself is simplistic, radiantly colorful and usually produced on lower quality materials thus becoming accessible to the greater. However, because of its more agrarian roots, the lubok style was somewhat liberated from the constraints of icons ever defining tradition of imagery and composition. The new freedom allowed artists to portray a greater range subject matter, perhaps even drawing inspiration from the psyche of societies lower tires. This was, after all, a century of great turmoil within the Russian Orthodox faith and imagery of the antichrist and end times was unusually prominent.

The Reformer: Patriarch Nikon

However, the source influence can be drawn farther back to western embellished manuscripts from fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. Icons, in general, resist transformations in both stylization and subjectivity particularly those that have originated from the Christian west (which I assure you, I will cover soon). However, when it does occur, the changes are usually behind the current trends in non-orthodox art for reasons that again, are connect to the static ideal of Orthodox art. In this case, we have influences from manuscripts by way folk art, and in turn influencing traditional icons in Russia. With this in hand, Raoul has now begun writing and hopefully I will be able to get a final copy before I return to the Midwest.

My research now turns more independent as I begin to look towards topics and subjects that attract me most. I have begun work on a topic which directly links to my work at Cornell College, that is, Neo-Platonic and mystical origins of Christianity during post-Hellenic civilization. I have already spent time with Prof. Steven Sacks becoming familiar with Gnostic and mystical trends from early c.e. to the renaissance and later. Trying to understand the importance of these ideas to the culture of the church and greater European thought. It is to be hoped that by the end of next week I will be able to give a more detailed outline of my direction.

A Supposed Portrait of Plotinus

 

Gordon Lankton, the character of focus for this weeks post, is the founder and visionary for the Museum of Russian Icons. What fascinates me about Mr. Lankton is not his business exploits or even his general acts of philanthropy (for that:http://www.thevitalitymag.com/gordon-b-lankton-from-industry-to-russian-icons, or http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122765238077157809.html, etc)–the culture of giving after all is common (hopefully) to an individual who has plenty. Instead, it is his infatuation and interaction with that which is small. Mr. Lankton has now helped grow a billion dollar company and museum of substantial worth, all in a town with a population that barely reaches into the tens of thousands. Even his primary choice in cultural philanthropy, the Russian Icon, can be seen as a dwarf among its artistic brethren. It seems that Lankton is fond of not only what is praised and recognized but also by what will make an impact that can be observed. I imagine this in part was shaped by a motorcycle trip that he took from Germany to Japan back in the 1940′s and 50′s (which is now book title A Long Way Home: A Motorcycle Journey). This trip was most certainly a point of departure for a man who was trying to establish value in a world culture that had just emerged from WWII.  Most days Gordon can be seen walking through the Museum of Russian Icons, critiquing curatorial choices, sharing lunch with interns while also making small talk with any passing patron who holds a question or a comment. I would like to think this is the reason he helped build such a small but exquisite museum–if it was too large, he would never be able to see everyone and everything.

Gordon Lankton

I have yet to spend a substantial amount of time utilizing the cultural worth of the greater Boston area, however, this coming weekend I have planned a tour of both the MFA and the Isabella Gardner Museum. Most of my time in Worcester is spent at practice with an Ultimate team that I joined for the summer or perhaps searching for the best espresso that this state has to offer. I did visit the Worcester Art Museum (WAM) and I was glad to discover a beautiful collection with an accompanying library. In the next two months, when the museum will be opening up their doors everyday for free, I plan on taking up residence among the book stacks located in the heart of the museum.

Week 1: Museum of Russian Icons

June 20th, 2012

Henry Hundt ’13, Shroeder Fellow in Art

It has now been a little over a week since I began my research internship with the Museum of Russian Icons in Clinton, Massachusetts and I have quickly realized that this Fellows program will offer me much more then I ever anticipated. The culture, the people, the dialect and the museum’s academics have begun to transform my polite Midwestern mannerisms into a repertoire of east coast slurs.

I arrived for my first days of work at the Museum of Russian Icons (http://www.museumofrussianicons.org/) with an incredible amount of anticipation and it must have been obvious because it took very little time before was seated next to a stack of books pursuing a topic. I met with my on site supervisor Laura Garrity-Arquitt who took me on a quick to tour of the Museum’s capabilities. The facility, which is built within the former walls of the Clinton town hall including old jail cells, is a state of the art facility which rivals any museums in the U.S. today. The museum is outfitted with all LED multicolored lighting system with retractable gallery space and a spiraling staircase running through the center which gives the museum’s patrons easy access to the 500 plus works located on three levels. The building itself is “green” generating all of its own electricity with 44 solar panels housed on the roof of the building. All in all, it is a sight to behold.

After taking a tour I had chance to meet the people who make the museum tick. Because there are several characters I would like profile on this  blog, I will try and introduce one a week until I have covered all those that have impacted my experience here in Massachusetts the most. The first will be Research Fellow Raoul Smith, former professor of Linguistics and Slavic Languages at Northwestern. Raoul heads up the Journal of Icon Studies which is a peer reviewed publication sponsored by the museum. Because of his mastery of the Slavic languages (Indo-European languages such as Russian, Czech, Ukrainian,…), Raoul is often peering over an icon on behalf of a fellow researcher or for his own work. Raoul also spends time advising Gordon B. Lankton (founder who will also be featured here in the coming weeks) on which works the museum should purchase and which traveling shows should be brought to the museum.

Raoul is a man of constant humor and a large grin that holds back an enormous amount of knowledge pertaining to the study of icons. It took him an hour or so before he had me pouring mercilessly over materials relevant to his current research project. Having never spent a substantial amount of time with Russian Icons, working with Raoul has been the perfect initiation into this field of study. Raoul and I are currently working on an icon dating to around the mid 17th century which was probably produce by the Yaroslavl school in the northern Novograd area of Russia. The icon, which depicts the major Orthodox feast day of Christ’s Resurrection and Decent into Hell as described in the Apocryphal of Nicodemus (the decent narrative is also called the Anastastis), has many previously un-described characteristics (see below). It must be mentioned that the arrival of new forms of icon characteristics is less usually because of the strong tradition that exists in icon painting. My task has been to unearth the dramatic shift in demon depiction that occurs in this work. Devils and demons usually have a less central role in icon narratives because of the role this tradition plays in the Orthodox religion (which I will be covering next week). As for an early guess at an explanation, I have found some evidence of in an increase of eschatological teachings in the mid to late 17th century Russian Orthodox Church in response the schism which took place. This might explain the increased attention given to non-saint, devilish figures. If the monks that produced this work believed that the days on earth were ending, than the icons symbolism would have shifted.

 

My ability to jump right into a professional research project at the museum is due in full to my experiences at Cornell College. I have produced numerous research projects for Cornell’s Professor Christina Penn-Goetsch in the Art and Art History department while studying the topic of art, culture and religion through history. I have also had an unusual advantage in terms of my religious studies work with Cornell’s Professor Steven Sacks–my study of Orthodoxy is not only a new topic but one that is also crucial to my current internship. So far it seems evident that these two areas of academia can be pursued in harmony and that my experiences at Cornell have readied me for the summer.

I have yet to really explore the area however I have all of Boston on my door steps. The internship has been consuming my time and energy–not out of necessity but rather excitement. In the coming weeks I plan on deciding which research topic I will pursue and I have been working hard to get up to speed at the museum. Don’t I look exhausted?

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