Art Literally Comes to Life at the Bob Jones Living Gallery

By:Amy Holtcamp

Date:4/28/2011

On a sunny afternoon before Easter, I joined the audience at Bob Jones University for the annual ​Living Gallery, a unique program that brings art to life in an amazing series of tableau-vivants.

This year’s event, titled "This Same Jesus," was a meditation on why God lets bad things happen to good people.

A curtain flies up to the rafters to reveal a Rembrandt reproduced on stage on a massive scale. Inserted into the painting are costumed actors who hold a pose with absolute stillness. Their faces and bodies have been shadowed to mimic the artists’ brushstrokes and shadowing. The effect is beautiful and astonishing. I also noticed it provided an interesting puzzle for some of the younger audience members who were trying to find all of the actors in any given tableau. Sometimes the actor-models looked so much like the painted characters they stood next to it was impossible to tell which was which.

The “paintings” were accompanied by lived orchestral and choral selections and broken up by scenes from an original play about a pastor and the world-weary man who comes to fix his stained glass. The play provides a way to discuss the religious themes portrayed in the paintings.

A ticket to the Living Gallery also included admission to the wonderful The Bob Jones Museum and Gallery. Filled with magnificent works of art and a collection of Old Masters that rivals top museums in Europe, it’s a must-see stop for art lovers regardless of their religious beliefs.

The museum, however, is part of a Christian college and as such provides an opportunity for those who share the school’s faith to use the arts to deepen their worship. It should be noted that the Living Gallery, while a magnificent artistic feat, is religious in nature; the event begins with a prayer and is considered a program of worship.

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The Museum and Gallery at Bob Jones University houses 30 galleries filled with art, tapestries, furniture, sculpture and architectural motifs from the 14th through the 19 ...

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