A New Exhibition at the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art Explores Symbolic Representations of the Virgin Mary

“Ave Maria: Marian Devotional Works from Eastern and Western Christendom” is on view through July 20, 2014


EUGENE, Ore. -- (October 2, 2013) – The Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art at the University of Oregon presents “Ave Maria: Marian Devotional Works from Eastern and Western Christendom” a new exhibition in the McKenzie Gallery. This exhibition, on view through July 20, 2014, explores a variety of representations of Mary and iconic scenes from her life through narrative and symbolic works in the JSMA’s collection.


The Virgin Mary has been venerated in art and visual culture since the late Middle Ages throughout Christian Europe. “Ave Maria” features panel paintings of the Virgin Mary that continue the tradition of Marian imagery from both the Byzantine Empire, represented by paintings of Russian, Yugoslavian, and Greek heritage and from the Holy Roman Empire, represented by paintings from the Netherlands and Italy, which demonstrate similarities and differences between Eastern and Western Marian iconography.


“The major differences between Byzantine icons and Western European panel paintings are stylistic,” says June Koehler, JSMA assistant curator. “Whereas Byzantine icons are static, linear, and non-perspectival—they are considered to be painted theology—Western European panel paintings are more naturalistic and include both narrative and landscape elements.”


“Ave Maria” includes symbolic paintings that represent theological concepts central to the Virgin’s status as Theotokos (Mother of God) and narrative scenes depicting stories of her life. In addition to the iconographic information related to the Virgin, these panels also provide insight into the religious lives of those who commissioned them. Specifically, they attest to the continuation of Marian devotion from the Middle Ages through the early modern period.


“This is illustrated by the fact that some of the paintings in the exhibition are copies of earlier works that were regarded as national treasures,” says Koehler.


“Ave Maria: Marian Devotional Works from Eastern and Western Christendom” is organized by recent University of Oregon Art History M.A. recipient Katrena Kugler under the direction of Assistant Curator June Koehler and made possible by a JSMA Academic Support Grant (thanks to matching funds from the School of Architecture and Allied Arts, the College of Arts and Sciences, The Robert D. Clark Honor’s College, and the Office of the Provost.


About the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art

The University of Oregon's Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art is a premier Pacific Northwest museum for exhibitions and collections of historic and contemporary art based in a major university setting. The mission of the museum is to enhance the University of Oregon’s academic mission and to further the appreciation and enjoyment of the visual arts for the general public.  The JSMA features significant collections galleries devoted to art from China, Japan, Korea, America, Europe and elsewhere as well as changing special exhibition galleries.  The JSMA is one of six museums in the state of Oregon—and the only university museum--accredited by the American Alliance of Museums.


The Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art is located on the University of Oregon campus at 1430 Johnson Lane. Museum hours are 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesdays, and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays through Sundays. Admission is $5 for adults and $3 for senior citizens. Free admission is given to ages 18 and under, JSMA members, college students with ID, and University of Oregon faculty, staff and students. For information, contact the JSMA, 541-346-3027.


About the University of Oregon

The University of Oregon is among the 108 institutions chosen from 4,633 U.S. universities for top-tier designation of "Very High Research Activity" in the 2010 Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education. The UO also is one of two Pacific Northwest members of the Association of American Universities.


Contact: Debbie Williamson Smith, 541-346-0942,


Links: Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art,