By Katrina Robelo
Towards the back of the Permanent Collection gallery are four reliefs depicting apostles that belong to the Brummer Collection of Medieval and Renaissance Art—or, they used to be there. The sculptures have recently been dismounted and taken to object storage for further research for one of my classes, Wired! New Representational Technologies, which aims to recontextualize medieval sculpture through a series of interpretative and reconstructive technologies.
The apostle reliefs are most probably from a twelfth-century church once located in southwestern France near the town of Sarlat. Considering the apostle’s poses and gestures, conveying a sense of wonder and awe, they were probably arranged in a depiction of Christ’s Ascension, similar to those found on the tympana of Romanesque churches in France of the period. These limestone apostles are unique not only for their exceptional quality and expressive stylistic features that leave viewers charmed with them at first glance, but also because they belong to the largest ensemble of Romanesque figural sculpture in the United States, including five more reliefs in three other collections.
The next step in our project is to recreate this arrangement with a variety of computer programs to visualize and, hence, better understand and communicate the original context for these apostle reliefs. Well, after spending just a few hours on Google SketchUp, a 3D modeling software, I can confidently say that I am not technologically inclined and that for the next few weeks, it seems that I will be in a particularly demanding relationship with the Nasher apostles.