Cathy Futral Gets First-Hand View of Ancient Art
SFCC art professor Cathy Futral recently had the experience of a lifetime when she and her husband traveled to the Holy Lands, Jordan and Israel, to experience regional art, culture, and history. Futral teaches about the artifacts and architecture of the area in her art history classes, and the trip allowed her to visit many of these same places.
In Amman, Jordan, Futral visited the Roman ruins of a theatre and a citadel with ancient temple ruins. She also visited the Amman Archaeological Museum where she saw fragments of the Dead Sea Scrolls, clay containers, and sculptures dating back to 6500 BCE. “It was amazing to walk into the museum and see these pieces,” Futral said. “These were thousands of years old artifacts from the Upper Paleolithic, Neolithic, and Ancient Roman eras, yet unlike other museums there were no guards watching over the objects.”
Also in Jordan, Futral traveled to the city of Petra. “The city was carved directly into the rock of a mountain over 2,000 years ago. It’s not easy to get to. The only way to get into the city is to walk or ride in on a horse and carriage.”
Futral teaches about the different religious influences on art and, in Israel, she visited four significant holy sites for three of the world’s major religions: the Christian sites of the Church of the Nativity and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Judaism’s the Wailing Wall, and Islam’s the Dome of the Rock, the oldest existing example of Islamic architecture. “The Dome of the Rock illustrates the art and architecture that was common in the Byzantine era,” Futral said. “It is also the third holiest site in Islam, and its architecture is the most important topic covered in the art history of Islamic culture.”
She also traveled to Beit Shean, Israel, a city known for its Roman ruins, walls, streets, tells, and baths. “This part of the world hasn’t been covered up,” Futral said. “You can still see the layers of other cultures and history from thousands of years ago. So many civilizations have lived in those areas, and there was a very heavy Mesopotamian, Byzantine, and Greco-Roman influence in the artifacts and architecture there that you don’t get to see in modern cities.”
“You can’t compare seeing the paintings in a book to actually going to a museum or artist’s studio to view it in person,” Futral said. “I may not be able to bring my students to the actual historical sites, but from having had my own personal experience in the Holy Lands, I can better teach them about the places, the culture, and the architecture we discuss in my art classes.”