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Independent Study, VCU Richmond

Faculty leader

Jorge Benitez, Assistant Professor

Student participants

Isabella Call, Courtney Shackelford

Illumanuscript explored and pushed the boundaries of the illuminated manuscript form. An interactive curtain of accordion-folded paper was pulled over the face of a constructed light box using inset metal rod tracks. The box had a golden interior as a nod to the gold leaf prevalent in traditional illuminated manuscripts. One curtain showed instances from Arthurian legend. The second curtain presented corresponding instances from the Epic of Rostam. For both sets, images were pulled from manuscripts of the 13th and 14th centuries and given new life through principles of design. Imagery from illuminated manuscripts of King Arthur’s legends as well as imagery from the illuminated manuscripts of the Epic of Rostam educated the viewer in the illumination conventions of both cultures.

The images referenced the playfulness of sequential imagery, yet respected the tradition of Arthurian Legend and Shahnameh narrative. The piece explored these ancient literatures, drawing viewers into the stories through tactile interaction with the narratives. It also drew viewers into an intimate reading experience by adjoining two cultures and two time periods. This project was designed for viewers with deep-seated love for tales of great heroism, as well as those possessing love for the visual nuances of light and the intricacy of line.