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The amorphous nature of the relationship between art and religion

the interpretative critiques raised by those scholars representing “the marginalized” transferred attention from the traditional art being studied to the nature and intent of the questions being asked. Initially, feminism wielded vast influence in transforming scholarly foci and the methodological formulae. The incorporation of feminist concerns, motifs, methods, and vocabulary in art and religion is evidenced by the work of Margaret R. Miles (1985) and Celia Rabinovitch (2002). Scholarly interest in the process of seeing, the relationship between art and religious vision on all levels of society, and the role of seeing in the process of making art is emphasized in the new disciplinary visual culture studies by Colleen McDannell (1995) and David Morgan (1998 and 2005). An important reference is the special exhibitions and their catalogues and books, which have begun to focus on issues related to the art and religion of the so-called Third World in the work of Rosemary Crumlin (1988 and 1991), Thomas B. F. Cummings, and Kenneth Mills (1997). The writing and discussions of two art historians—David Freedberg (1989) on response theory and James Elkins (2001) on the interconnections of optics/vision, human emotions, and religious meaning in art—have greatly advanced the studies of art and religion.

New Considerations

As scholars engaged in the study of art and religion continue their perennial quest to answer the critical questions “what makes art religious?” and “how is religious artistic?”, the analytic methods, subjects, and vocabulary have responded by crossing over into the borders of new disciplines, such as visual culture, and the new critical gauntlets of technology, globalization, and secularization. Technology transformed the definition, experience, and study of art with the nineteenth-century invention of the camera, as photography challenged painting into new directions. The contemporary challenges of technology include the advent of computer art, virtual reality, and an environment in which one merely needs to press the right button to encounter masterpieces of art on the websites of major museums. The computer becomes then a mediator between art and the viewer, between art and artist, and between human consciousness and the projection of reality.