Monday, November 26, 2007

Doors and Art (as Experience)

I found this fascinating post (to which I have added just a wee bit) over at Adam's Ale.

Doors play a strong symbolic role in the life of a Christian. It is symbolic of the entrance to the gates of heaven to which Peter had been given the keys. Often you will notice that the front doors of cathedrals are as ornate as the high altar, well, at least they were, as their symbolic use reminded those going to mass that they were entering into God’s house.

There is also the tradition of the Jubilee Year and the opening of the door at St. Peter’s in Rome. For more information look here.

But very intriguing are the doors in the place where we live. Dr. Paul Daum, who was one of my professors when I was in school to study set design, told the story of a set he had designed for which he received a lot of criticism. The play involved a Jewish family living in a Jewish town. “Notice the doors,” he told us. “You would never see these doors in a building built to accommodate people of the Jewish faith.”

The doors did not look any different than any doors that I had ever seen, but then he explained the symbolism to us. According to him, the long board down the center and the narrower cross board represents the cross of our Lord. The lower cross board which is much wider than the others, is an open Bible.

Even if it is not true, it should be.

A second common door in the places we live is called a “witch’s door”. Many barn doors and aluminum storm doors have this shape to them. Much of the door or at least the bottom half has an “X” through it. This is Saint Andrew’s cross. At one time St. Andrew was depended upon to protect people from witches. His cross was a marker of his presencee and intercession where people who wanted nothing to do with witches lived.

Note from Soutenus: As I added pictures and a couple more details to this post I realized that I really love doors.

Now, I have always had a thing for keys. . . I have made mobiles, musical instruments and collages with them. But doors! I did not realize it until just now.
They can be so expressive, beautiful and full of stories. Now with this new found knowledge from Adam's Ale I will appreciate them all the more.

My son and I worked on a post about Red Doors for his blog. I will have to include it over here at Catholic Notebook sometime soon.

This all makes me remember a wonderful and classic book called, Art as Experience, by John Dewey.
"For to perceive, a beholder must create his own experience. And his creation must include relations comparable to those which the original producer underwent....Without an act of recreation the object is not perceived as a work of art." (p. 54)

On the subject of art as experience, Dewey also said,
"The live being recurrently loses and reestablishes equilibrium with
his surroundings. The moment of passage from disturbance into
harmony is that of intensest life." (p. 17)
That brings art right into the realm of religion. Is it no wonder that great art not only can glorify God but can also speak to us in a way that nothing else can?
God has a great sense of humor. I am touched and filled with joy to know that. . . .a simple door can do that for me!

If you are interested in more of Dewey's aesthetic philosophy (particularly as it pertains to literature according to Dan Green ) check out: The Reading Experience
Go here for a photographer's view: Politics, Theory, Photography

1 comment:

Joyce Paul said...

It is the artist in you! LOL
Remember the choreography you did with the cars?? You made a PARKING LOT your canvas!
Should we expect a door dance in the near future? And even though I am teasing you a little bit I totally "get it" about the doors. I love your creative spirit. I am reminded of Dr Phillip's philosophy classes -- reading Dewey

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