Renfrew-Collingwood Community News

News stories from the Renfrew-Collingwood community in East Vancouver

Heroine of a Thousand Pieces: The Judith Mosaics of Lilian Broca at Il Museo

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BY ANGELA CLARKE, PHD

Judith Praying in the Desert

Judith Praying in the Desert. Image courtesy of Il Museo and Lilian Broca

On November 12, 2015 at Il Museo in the Italian Cultural Centre, the contemporary artist Lilian Broca unveiled her new mosaic series Heroine of a Thousand Pieces: The Judith Mosaics of Lilian Broca.

While the artistic genre of mosaic is an ancient art form, it is ultimately modern, even post-modern. Like a computer screen that relies upon diverse pixels to create an image, the image of the mosaic is based on a combination of small light reflecting coloured fragments. When organized and arranged by a skilled artist, these fragments of glass can not only create a complete picture, they can also recount an entire story.

In this mosaic series, Broca has masterfully arranged thousands of coloured glass tesserae to tell the story of Judith, a heroine from the ancient text of the Biblical Apocrypha.

Broca’s work brings to the attention of modern audiences the story of an ancient heroine who is as complex as she is contemporary. Traditionally, Judith has been represented by Renaissance artists such as Caravaggio, Botticelli, Orazio Gentileschi and his equally famous daughter, Artemisia Gentileschi Judith, as a seductive and violent woman who is a threat to the social order.

However, in pursuit of this depiction important elements in the Judith tale have been overlooked and Judith has been much misunderstood. For this reason Lilian Broca has revisited the Judith story in its entirety. From her more detailed examination, Judith is not simply a problematic woman, a virago, but a courageous and devout leader who single-handedly saves her community.

By depicting this heroine and her complete story, constructed from thousands of pieces of Venetian glass, Broca reveals a figure wholly modern in character. As such, Judith remains an archetypal figure who continues to fascinate and inspire. It is Broca’s new vision of Judith that makes her not only a heroine of the past, but also for the 21st century.

Angela Clarke, PhD, is the curator of Il Museo at the Italian Cultural Centre. The exhibition Heroine of a Thousand Pieces: The Judith Mosaics of Lilian Broca runs until March 31, 2016. Museum hours are 10 am to 5 pm Tuesday through Saturday.

Copyright (c) 2015 Renfrew-Collingwood Community News

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