Thomas Russo, associate dean of international programs and professor of art history at Drury University in Springfield, Mo., will speak on “Defining Sacred Spaces: Sculpture in the Romanesque Church,” Wednesday, October 17 as part of NIU’s 2018-2019 Elizabeth Allen Visiting Alumni Speakers in Art History series.

Thomas Russo

Dr. Thomas Russo

Around 1000 A.D., at the turn of the millennium, the population in Europe began to grow.  Cities started to expand again and a building boom of new churches, as well as rebuilding of old churches swept the continent.  A contemporary monk, Rodulfus Glaber, wrote that so many stone churches were being built it was as though, “the world was being cloaked in a white mantle of churches.”

These churches served Christian communities in both urban and rural environments and provided space for multiple functions, secular and primarily, religious.  Rituals related to the mass and the delivery of the sacraments fostered new ways of defining space through the use of sculpture and architectural forms.  Russo’s talk will explore the emergence this trend and how it helped to define not only sacred spaces, but a new style of architecture: the Romanesque.

“Defining Sacred Spaces: Sculpture in the Romanesque Church” is free and open to the public.  The lecture will be held, Wednesday, October 17 at 5 p.m. in Jack Arends Hall, the visual arts building, on NIU’s main campus in room AB 100.

Russo earned his bachelor’s in history and master’s in both art history and history at NIU.  He went on to earn his PhD at Indiana University and has been on the faculty at Drury University since 1993.