The Fine Arts Department is happy to announce the display of a Spanish painting, circa 1680, of Teresa of Avila, one of the Doctors of the Roman Catholic Church. The painting is a part of a number of works given or acquired over the past 3 years representing the various cultures and religions mirroring the make-up our Culver student community. This work joins a recently acquired 17th century Torah Scroll Fragment, a 19th century illustrated leaf from the Koran, and an Indian silk painting, circa. 19th century, of the Hindu deity Shiva. Together they help bridge cultural understanding by talking about the importance of religion in human society.
Teresa of Avila (1515-1582) was a Spanish Carmelite whose writings about Christian prayer influenced people throughout Europe. Known for her jovial personality and quick wit, Teresa became a foundress and reformer of many convents. Encouraging personal betterment, Teresa is quoted as saying, “Accustom yourself continually to make many acts of love, for they enkindle and melt the soul.” Proclaimed a Doctor of the Church in 1970, Teresa of Avila’s writings are as pertinent today as they were in the 16th century.
The painting on display in the Crisp mixes two stories from Teresa’s life. The first is a chance encounter with a young child wandering the stairs of the convent. When Teresa approached, he asked, “Who are you?” She answered, “I am Teresa of Jesus, and who are you?” “I,” replied the child, “am Jesus of Teresa,” and then promptly vanished. The second story regards her friend, the Spanish mystic, St. John of the Cross. Teresa and John were prolific writers and both wrote of their love for God as being like a mystical marriage to Christ. In our painting, these two thoughts come together with Teresa holding the child Jesus who, in turn, offers her a ring.
Teresa of Avila is now, for your enjoyment, on display in the Deer-Zink Gallery of the Crisp Visual Art Center.