Behind the Name

Estimated read time 2 min read

Both light and shadow are the dance of Love ~ Rumi

My curiosity never fails to lead me down a rabbit hole to unexpected places. In one such exploration I landed upon a nearly 400 year old book with a marvelous Latin title: Ars Magna Lucis et Umbrae.

Translation: the Great Art of Light and Shadow.

Turns out it may be the first published account of the illumination and projection of images, dealing with the nature of light, lenses, mirrors, sundials, astronomy, etc. It even includes descriptions of the camera obscura and the magic lantern, which are early precursors to photography. ((Sidenote: Torino in Italy has the most amazing museum on the history of cinema and photography: MUSEO NAZIONALE DEL CINEMA. Seriously, they have a floor called the Archaeology of Cinema. I highly recommend it.))

This lengthy book (all in Latin!) was written by 17th-century Jesuit priest Father Athanasius Kircher, an eccentric inventor and scholar. German-born Fr. Kircher was a professor in Rome and prolifically published books on a wildly variable range of topics. He single-handedly curated the Roman College museum, which was filled with many of his own bizarre projects and inventions. He was also responsible for rebuilding the ancient shrine of Our Lady of Graces outside of Rome, the restoration of which he spearheaded over several decades.

So for me, the name – and its author – fits perfectly! Museums, light and photography, Italy, historic restoration, Catholic shrines, dude with so many hobbies they change weekly… it’s all there. Especially because I am an avid photographer with a fascination for the history of photographic images, and have even fancied calling myself a Writer of Light, one poetic term I’ve come across to describe this vocation. You might also call me a renaissance woman… anyone who knows me is aware of my broad spectrum of interests and intrigues. They called this guy a polymath, and what a terribly unromantic name, but that very accurately describes me too.

For this Art Blog I will be exploring the interplay between the creative life the spiritual life, chronicling my artistic adventures, and uncovering wonderful art throughout history. I’ll share my poetry, photo essays, and photographs from all over the world, sketches of unique artwork/projects I come across, interviews with artists who inspire me, and guest posts by creative friends.

All carefully and lovingly curated. Enjoy.

~ Janelle