Like much of the work we have viewed from the Western hemisphere in this course, the visual art works we examine in our Non-Western chapters embody religious and spiritual beliefs held by the artists who created them, as well as by the primary audiences they were created for.
One of the reasons religious art is interesting is that, like all works of visual art, it makes “visible” an “invisible” belief. Christian art relies on a set of symbols and familiar images – called an iconography – that even if we are not Christians ourselves we are somewhat familiar with, because Christianity is one of the dominant religions of the Western world. Art of the Hindu faith, on the other hand, may feel truly exotic and foreign to our eyes as we are not as familiar with the iconography of the religion.
For your written assignment this week, please choose one piece of religious art from the readings and investigate its iconography.
In your writing, be sure to address the following questions:
-What religious belief system does the work belong to?
-What is represented in the work? If there is a figure, who is the figure? What are the symbols used?
-What are the formal qualities of this work that the artist uses to communicate their message?
-How are these formal qualities different than a work of Western religious art? In what ways?
The last two questions are the most critical for this assignment, and will require careful thought. Not only are the symbols and depictions foreign in these works, so are the formal methods by which spirituality is depicted.

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