As part of the new exhibit Highest Heaven, exploring the cultural and religious world of the Spanish Colonial possessions of the Altiplano (high plains) of South America, WAM hosts a scholarly discussion on Gaspar Miguel de Berrío’s painting Our Lady of Mount Carmel with Bishop Saints. Rather than group works by media as an introduction to the world of Spanish Colonial art, the exhibition returns the objects’ original context as, literally and symbolically, articles of faith. It focuses on the didactic aspects of the collection, especially as they relate to the life of Christ, the Christian religious orders, and the cult of the saints. It explores ways in which such religious art was used in the propagation of Catholic beliefs by use of visual art to illustrate biblical moments in the life of Christ—from the Annunciation and birth to the Crucifixion and Resurrection. Furthermore, it examines visual representations of saints, exemplar proponents of the Christian life. Finally, Highest Heaven will focus on religious orders that provided organizational and philosophical underpinnings for the propagation of the faith.
BIO: Michael Schreffler
Michael Schreffler’s research centers on the art and architecture of Spain and Latin America in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. He is the author of The Art of Allegiance: Visual Culture and Imperial Power in Baroque New Spain (Penn State Press, 2007), a study of the ways in which paintings and architecture were involved in the Spanish Crown’s governance of the viceroyalty of New Spain from its capital, Mexico City. He has published a number of articles in scholarly journals examining the ways in which representation–in the form of visual images, architectural ornament, and descriptive texts–facilitated change in the early modern Spanish world. He is the recipient of a number of awards including the Arthur Kingsley Porter Prize from the College Art Association; an NEH Long-Term Fellowship at the Newberry Library; an Ailsa Mellon Bruce Senior Fellowship at the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC; a postdoctoral fellowship from the Getty Foundation; and a Fulbright Fellowship to Spain.