Professor Virginia Raguin Speaks in Rehm
Published: Friday, October 4, 2013
Updated: Sunday, October 6, 2013 17:10
On Wednesday, Sept. 18, Holy Cross faculty, staff, students, and the general public gathered in Rehm Library to listen to Professor Virginia Raguin, Distinguished Professor of Humanities, Head, Art History. Prof. Raguin’s talk was titled “Pre-Muslim Inspiration for Sinan’s Istanbul Mosques Under Suleyman the Magnificent”.
Prof. Raguin’s inspiration came from a trip she took this past summer with her husband. The two went on a thirteen day tour of Turkey. “It was very unexpected,” Professor Raguin commented, “so we figured why not?!”
Prof. Raguin then began discussing the Roman Emperor Constantine and his influence on Istanbul. The first Christian Emperor of Rome, Constantine created many Christian buildings in present-day Istanbul (then Constantinople). Constantine’s influence led way to more buildings being built, influencing the Byzantines.
In particular, Prof. Raguin mentioned the Byzantine structure Hagia Sophia, or the Church of Holy Wisdom. Hagia Sophia was started in A.D. 537 and commissioned by Emperor Justinian. Hagia Sophia was built by a scientist and a mathematician, so there were no figural decorations. Instead, “there was no elaborate decoration,” stated Prof. Raguin,”but rather geometric order.”
Hagia Sophia is also considered to be “mesmerizing” and “iconic”, with beautiful mosaic remnants and patterns. When discussing why people still consider this building such a wonderful work of art, Professor Raguin observed that “we are social creatures, we learn from each other, inspire each other, and admire each other”. Not all art is necessarily complex, but rather whether or not a viewer feels or thinks something when he or she observes a work of art.
Fast-forwarding to the creation of the Suleymaniye Complex of the sixteenth century, Hagia Sophia’s clearly presents a geometric pattern influenced by symmetry that the Emperor Suleyman the Magnificent and his architect, Sinan, utilized.
The fantastic use of tiles and geometric patterns creates an airy, heavenly space for viewers to use their imaginations. “Human beings desire dignity and beauty,” remarked Prof. Raguin,” there has to be a sense of purpose to the work of art and effort must be put into it.”
After the talk, Prof. Raguin’s husband, who provided all the photos for her slideshow, offered a crash course on high-density range photography for interested students. Overall, Prof. Raguin’s presentation gave the audience insight into the world of art and architecture, and how different people can speak volumes to the world through these two mediums.