Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum

Teacher professional development and classroom resources across the curriculum

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Lintel 25 of Yaxchilán Structure 23
Lintel 25 of Yaxchilán Structure 23
The Ecstasy of St. Teresa
The Ecstasy of St. Teresa

Why do we depict visionary experience?

Although most people in modern Western society tend to associate visions with psychosis, at many times and in many places they have been understood as signs of political or spiritual authority. Both of these works portray women in the midst of visionary experiences. The presentation of each speaks to both the role of the artwork in its respective location and the status of the vision’s seer in the culture that produced the work.

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Questions to Consider

  • How does each of these images visualize the experience of its main subject? Is it evident that each depicts an individual having a vision? Why or why not?
  • What elements characterize the visionary experience in each of these pieces? What is the visual impact of each? Keeping in mind cultural context, what can you infer from your observations about the intended function of each work?
  • Think about the original context in which each of these artworks was found. How does that location add to your understanding of the work’s meaning and the value attached to visions in each case?