Funerary Images Comprise Back through Eden’s Gate: A Celebration of Paradise in Ancient and Modern Times
Harcum Art Gallery’s next exhibit will feature a series of original paintings and drawings, from religion professor Stephen Potthoff’s new book, titled Back through Eden’s Gate: A Celebration of Paradise in Ancient and Modern Times Oct. 26 through Dec. 9.
(PICTURED) Grave Mosaic with Imagery of Paradise
The artists include Wilmington senior Linden Ayoki, 2016 alumnus Tiffany Barr, and two area art professors, Craig Dove, adjunct philosophy faculty member at WC, and Bridgette Bogle, an art professor at Sinclair Community College.
The exhibit opening and artists’ reception will be held Oct. 26, from 6 to 8 p.m. in the gallery located in Boyd Cultural Arts Center. Normal gallery hours are weekdays, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and by special arrangement by gallery curator Hal Shunk, professor of art.
Potthoff, associate professor of religion and philosophy, wrote a book about visions and dreams titled The Afterlife in Early Christian Carthage: Near Death Experiences, Ancestor Cult and the Archaeology of Paradise, which is scheduled for release in late November. The book ties together Potthoff’s interests in religion, dreams and visionary experiences, and work he conducted at archaeological digs in Tunisia.
He said the funerary artwork in the book hearkens the ancient practice of bringing the heavenly paradise of near-death visionaries down to earth.
“This beautiful imagery helps me tell the story, better than words ever could, of the evolution and ongoing transformation of the paradise archetype as experienced in Roman and early Christian near-death visions, and realized in Roman and North African Christian cemeteries,” he said.
Potthoff said the paradise archetype is a very ancient one, as exemplified by the Garden of Eden and other Near Eastern parallels. Indeed, King Solomon’s Temple and palace were adorned with paradisal imagery and Near Eastern kings were buried in garden settings denoting paradise.
“It is my sincerest hope that the paradise brought to life on these gallery walls serves to inspire and bless those today as much as it has throughout millennia of human history,” he added.