What can Iconography, also known as Byzantine art say to 21st century people? Arts of the past reveal local visual languages that envelop the values, morality and spirituality of peoples of the past, who are geographically and/or timely distant from us, contemporary 21st century citizens living in an era of consumerism and ecological and social degradation. The significance of studying visual arts of the past is important for raising awareness of our selfhood in relation to the “Other” in the human and more than human world. On the pretext of engaging aesthetically with the frescoes inside the chapels of Panayia Phorviotissa, Panayia Arakiotissa and the Akathist Hymn chapel of Saint John Monastery from Cyprus (all chapels are included in the UNESCO World Heritage List) dated back to 12th-14th AC, this thesis invites the reader into a journey through the medium of art to read the aforementioned chapels and proceed into reflection: What might the frescos imply in our “troubled” times? What would the study of the fresco mean for the “more- than –human-world”? How would the art of the past such as iconography challenge hierarchies and our position on cosmos? In addition to the above, based on and combining imaginative education, place-based pedagogy, museum and arts education, this dissertation describes how all the above were used for the development of a program of activities to explore the aforementioned murals. Based on the technical characteristics of the murals like rhythm, line, form and colour this research narrates a trip inwards, upwards and through compassion outwards to embrace the world.
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Thesis advisor: Fels, Lynn
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