Agents of Faith: Votive Objects in Time and Place

Bard Graduate Center Exhibition Tour

Sunday, 28 October 2018

Agents of Faith: Votive Objects in Time and Place is the first large-scale exhibition to provide a broad perspective on the practice and history of votive giving.

Linking the human and spiritual realms, the practice of votive giving is common across cultures.  Almost anything can be transformed into a votive once it is charged with sentiment and meaning through a spiritual act such as prayer or meditation.  Through this process, the votive becomes “activated” as the material representative or agent of the individual’s most private wish or vow.  A rich mix of human dreams and hopes as well as fears and anxieties find tangible form in the votive object.

While some votive objects may be “found objects” having some significant form for the giver, others are made of various modest materials such as clay, wood, metal, and wax either by an individual for personal use or produced for the mass market, and still others can take the form of finely crafted works of art made of precious metals and gems.

This exhibition contains more than 250 objects dating from circa 1,500 BC to the 21st Century.  The objects represent many different traditions and are drawn from museums and private collections from around the world.  This broad selection presents the opportunity to consider the commonalities among votive objects from different societies and time periods.

Dr. Ittai Weinryb, associate professor at The Bard Graduate Center is the show’s chief curator and led the thoroughly engaging tour of the exhibition for Patrons and friends.

Screen Shot 2018-12-19 at 4.57.40 PM

Photo Credit:

Wounded Arm and Leg Votive

Wood, carved and polychromed

Italy, 1850-1950

Rudolf Kriss collection, Bayerisches Nationalmuseum, Munich

Photo: Walter Haberland

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