When I gaze at Fra Angelico’s Annunciation, I think of Gabriel’s announcement to Mary that she will be the Christ bearer. I also ponder what God is asking be to bear, what God is calling me to do in my life.
My observation is that Asians make up the largest group of tourists in Italy these days. It’s a good thing for the economy; they are the ones carrying huge bags out of the high-end designer stores on Via Tournabuoni. I’m talking about pocket books costing $2000 and dresses at $4000. There aren’t enough of us American to keep those shops open. I understand this—well kind of.
In museums and churches I notice Asians glancing at noteworthy pieces of art while intensely reading their guidebooks. For me, on the other hand, the history of western art, and especially the Biblical stories depicted in paintings, are deeply embedded in my mind and spirit. When I visit museums and churches I have an enormous back-history to draw upon, both consciously and unconsciously. It at these times that I am reminded of my superficial viewing of Asian art at the Shanghai Museum in 2003, and I am humbled.