Faculty Marvel at Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel

by Candice McElroy '04

At the eighth annual Faculty Seminar in the Liberal Arts June 2-6, 24 APU professors from various disciplines met at the Glendora Country Club to study Michelangelo’s art in the Sistine Chapel. This was the first year the seminar focused on a visual masterpiece.

“The program builds academic community, enhances interdisciplinary understanding, and contributes to the lifelong learning of faculty members,” said David L. Weeks, Ph.D., dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Faculty met in two groups of 12 and participants led discussions based on their study of the book Michelangelo: The Vatican Frescoes, as well as the Bible.

“The purpose was to have conversation, not to lecture one another,” said Chris Flannery, Ph.D., professor of political science. Faculty discussed various elements of the Sistine Chapel such as color, design, detail, and symbolism, and looked for biblical themes within the work.

“These magnificent frescoes taught me a lot about Michelangelo’s artistic genius, the arduous challenge of producing this masterpiece, and the influence of Michelangelo’s imagery on our thinking. His vivid portrayal of the human condition also provoked my thinking about human nature and our need for redemption,” said Weeks.

Throughout the discussions, art faculty with knowledge of the subject provided further details about Michelangelo’s artwork to broaden the understanding of their colleagues. “Then we had a greater appreciation for Michelangelo’s work on the Sistine Chapel,” said Flannery.

During the past eight summers, faculty studied various works in the liberal arts such as Dante’s Divine Comedy, Bach’s St. Matthew Passion, and Aquinas’ Summa Theologica.