The Alife Arch

Joseph Williams, Kiki Fox (Trinity ’12)

The Alife Arch project interrogates the provenance and function of several stone fragments in the Brummer Collection of the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University. The project follows the lives of these fragments from their original contexts in antiquity to the Nasher today. Spolia from widespread ancient monuments, the fragments were brought to the southern Italian city of Alife in the Middle Ages, where they were used in the sculptural decoration of the cathedral.

The students involved in this project are researching the ancient marble trade, hoping to establish how these stone blocks may have traveled through the Mediterranean to Alife, and will communicate their research through digital maps.

This project also engages with photogrammetry technology, with which students rendered detailed digital 3D models of the individual fragments of the arch. Following analysis of each fragment, students searched for comparanda in ancient and medieval monuments and hypothetically situated the models of the fragments into architectural and micro-architectural settings such as portals, statue bases, and pulpits. With digital technologies such as this, we can better envision the “potential pasts” of these complex fragments.

The Medieval Apostles at the Nasher Museum of Art

Katrina Robelo (Trinity ’12), Meg Williams (Trinity ’12)

The Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University holds four pieces of an important ensemble of Romanesque figural sculpture. These four apostles, along with two others at the Rhode Island School of Design Museum of Art, another at the Smith College Museum of Art, and one more apostle and an angel at the Memorial Art Gallery at the University of Rochester, were originally part of a 12th-century Ascension scene, probably on the exterior of a church, that would have been comprised of at least fourteen figures. Unfortunately, several pieces of the original group have been lost, but other evidence remains.

The goals of this project were to recontextualize the figures at Duke by recreating a hypothesis of their original arrangement and proposing a hypothesis of color for the girues in order to better understand how polychromy creates and enhances particular visual effects.

Meg Williams (Trinity ’12) and Katrina Robelo (Trinity ’12) thus drew upon conservation reports of the surviving sculptures, as well as Medieval manuscript illuminations to visualize these apostles as they might have originally appeared.

On With Their Heads

Iara Dundas, Elisabeth Narkin, Tim Prizer

This project follows the complex cultural biographies of two sculptural fragments in the Brummer Collection at Duke University’s Nasher Museum of Art. In analyzing the Head of a Virgin from the choir screen at Chartres’ cathedral and a Virtue from the north transept portal of Notre-Dame of Paris, this project seeks to better understand the objects’ various historical contexts and meanings and hopes to offer innovative solutions as to how best to represent these perspectives in a museum setting. In thinking through the stories of the Virgin and theVirtue, iconoclasm is employed as a unifying interpretive lens through which to examine the evolving significations of the objects. Guided by research questions about what narratives objects contain and how digital representation can tell these stories, “On with their Heads” is envisioned as an intervention in the traditional scholarship on these two well-known edifices as well as a proposal about how research in the humanities research can benefit from a mutually influential relationship with digital technologies.