Simon Verity, a stone carver from St. John the Divine, talked Monday with Duke students about the medieval and ancient sculptures at the Nasher Museum of Art. St. John the Divine, the cathedral of the Episcopal Diocese of New York, is one of the great pieces of religious architecture in the United States and is particularly famed for its stonework.
Verity’s visit to Duke was part of a research initiative examines the potential of computer analysis of chisel marks on stone surfaces to understand process and labor in the production of medieval sculpture and architecture. The project is under the direction of Professor Caroline Bruzelius in the Department of Art, Art History and Visual Studies, and Professor Carlo Tomasi, chair of the Department of Computer Science.
The research initiative is funded by Humanities Writ Large, and Verity’s visit was supported by a Mellon grant to the Nasher Museum. The Tomasi-Bruzelius research initiative has used the large collection of medieval sculpture in the Brummer Collection at Duke to test the acquisition of data taken from stone surfaces for analysis and interpretation.
In 1999, Verity directed the carving of the West Portal of the Cathedral also known as the Portal of Passion, which includes 32 depictions of Biblical figures.
He reviewed the sculptures in the Nasher Museum's Brummer Collection of Medieval and Renaissance Art. Afterwards, he took the students outside the museum to instruct them how to carve stone.
Below, Verity instructs Elizabeth Baltes, a Ph.D. candidate of art history, as she takes her turn carving stone. Senior student Jei Min Yoo, a computer science major, and Carlo Tomasi, professor of computer science, look on.
Photos by Jared Lazarus/Duke University Photography