The studio for art, faith & history hosts seminars and study tours, exhibitions and performances, and supports new work in the visual and performing arts.
This website gathers essays by the artists and writers and scholars who have participated in the programs of Gordon College in Orvieto, and which reflect the themes of the Studio for Art, Faith & History.
Actors in white linens shower the crowd with tiny flower petals. This night’s itinerant theatre performance has transformed into a banquet in which actors and audience are no longer separated, the barriers gone. On these ancient stones is laid out a banquet of laughter, food and wine, and all are invited.
When we stand in a tradition we are not simply trying to maintain a status quo; we’re in the business of translating what is past into what is truly present and thereby extending and elaborating that tradition.
We have returned as primitives and as children in the hope that this step backward may be the first of a hundred steps forward. Our past will thus be our future: Futuro Antico.
Art creates another significant link between Gordon College’s part of the globe and the Servite monastery in Orvieto. In a lush eclectic gallery of the Isabella Stuart Gardner Museum in Boston hangs a five-panel polyptych of the Virgin and Saints—a piece from the church of the Servi in Orvieto.
“Gina Leishman plays the rim of a glass, creating an unearthly sound in the night air. Sometimes in this carefully sculpted moment one could hear a gasp in the audience. That is always the music I long for.” - Karin Coonrod, artistic director of Orfeo in Orvieto.
A number of months after we started attending St Cuthbert's, the music director approached me and said, "You write poetry. Do you want to write a poem for Pentecost?" My reply was an immediate, "Not a chance. I am not a religious poet."
Later on the bus back home, it came to me: we live in a great plain from which history has been abolished. History, story, stories – everything whose existence is manifested through the progressive alterations of time. Nothing around us recalls the past, nothing constructs the future.
Gay Cox & Nathaniel Youndt
Planting Gay Cox’s Way of the Cross canvases at Soul Fest—the largest outdoor festival of contemporary Christian music in New England—challenged the pervasive notion that art belongs in galleries and museums, and can't be understood by the lay person.
Honestly, the best way to describe his posture would be to say that he was chilling: flat on his back, arms raised and behind his head. His face appeared restful, like the face of one who knew himself to be a creature of God.
John E. Skillen
This has been our subtle progress from studying in situ art to making art in situ for a community; from renewing a respect for tradition to contributing to that tradition.
Italy is dotted with monasteries of obscure identity, old purposes being forsaken, antiquity and cultural value arguing for their preservation. What should be done with an old hulk of a building, often vast and sturdily built, graced with art or good views or fine acoustics?
Damon Di Mauro
On March 17, 1541, a noblewoman of a certain age in widow’s weeds appeared before the door of the Convent of San Paolo in Orvieto, seeking refuge. According to Jacob Burckhardt, she was “the most famous woman” of sixteenth-century Italy.
Damon Di Mauro
Vittoria Colonna found in evangelismo a new outlet for her poetry, well suited to her own religious and lyric sensibilities.
Damon Di Mauro
Perhaps no other aspect of Vittoria’s life has been more scrutinized than her association with Michelangelo. We know that Vittoria and Michelangelo were in frequent contact during her stay at San Paolo.
Michelle Arnold Paine
One Sunday morning in that first spring of 1998 I attended Mass at the Duomo, lingering afterwards to savor the heartfelt simplicity I had observed in the liturgy. A woman approached me. She said, “I saw you in the library last week and now I see you here, so I came to introduce myself.”
- Creation and Fall on the steps of the Duomo, from Strangers & Other Angels, June 2006, directed by Karin Coonrod (Photo credit to Massimo Achilli).
- Cristina Spina in the title role of András Visky’s Juliet, performed in the courtyard of Palazzo Simoncelli, June 2012, (Photo credit to John Skillen)
- Reading Pope Gregory’s Life of St. Benedict, Subiaco, July 2015, (Photo credit to Gianna Scavo)
- Stephen Salters singing the title role of Claudio Monteverdi’s Orfeo, directed by Karin Coonrod and Gina Leishman, performed in the courtyard of Palazzo Simoncelli, June 2014, (Photo credit to Andrea Messana).
- Society for Classical Learning seminar for high school students, deciphering the Latin on tomb inscriptions in the catacombs of Santa Cristina, Bolsena, 2015, (Photo credit to Gianna Scavo).