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Although Ignatius Loyola (co-founder of the Society of Jesus) didn’t have an artistic bone in his body, he bequeathed to the Jesuit order and its institutions a sensibility, an appreciation for the revelatory power of the imagination that was a breakthrough in the Western spiritual tradition. Unlike so many earlier spiritual writers who warned against fantasy or the use of images, Ignatius in his Spiritual Exercises encourages retreatants actively to use their imaginations as well as their intellects. While a few of the exercises are analytic or content-driven, the most important are exercises of the imagination: ‘contemplations’ of the life of Jesus wherein the retreatants enter into the scene with eyes and ears and heart open.
- Tom Lucas, S.J.1
Double Vision: Art from Jesuit University Collections speaks to the unique role of art in Jesuit teaching as an instrument for finding meaning in life through imagination, feelings, and reflection. The exhibition is inspired by the Stations of the Cross, a fourteen-step devotion that commemorates the suffering and death of Jesus Christ. In place of the traditional Passion narrative, fourteen themes expressive of the human condition are each paired with two works of art as a means for providing multiple points of entry for exploring the themes. The act of moving through the exhibition, the narrative arc suggested by the themes, and the sometimes-surprising juxtapositions of art are intended (like the traditional stations) to encourage an imaginative, contemplative space for personal reflection
Double Vision features work from the Loyola University Museum of Art (Loyola University Chicago), the Museum of Contemporary Religious Art (Saint Louis University), and the Haggerty Museum of Art (Marquette University). A catalog will be produced in conjunction with the exhibition that includes an introductory essay by Fr. Tom Lucas S.J., (artist, historian, and Pastor at St. Ignatius Parish, Sacramento, CA), reflections on each pairing by members of the participating university communities, and images of the featured works of art. The catalog will be available free of charge to exhibition visitors.
As part of this Ignatian Year, which remembers the 500th anniversary of when Ignatius of Loyola’s process of transformation and the writing of the Spiritual Exercises began, the Haggerty Museum of Art offers this exhibition as a way of highlighting the power of art and imagination in Jesuit Education. https://www.marquette.edu/ignatian-year/
Double Vision: Art from Jesuit University Collections is made possible through the generous support of Presenting Sponsor the Patrick and Beatrice Haggerty Foundation.
1 Tom Lucas, SJ, “The Spiritual Exercises and Art,” Conversations on Jesuit Higher Education, Volume 47, Article 5. (Spring 2015): page 8.
Click here to access a digital interpretive space offering learning resources and exhibition texts. There you will find Art Asks prompts that invite you to deepen your understanding of themes from the exhibition.