Nov 3, 2010
by Dr. Maria Kouroumali

The Mary Jaharis Center for Byzantine Art and Culture Established

Reception in the Maliotis Cultural Center

Inaugural Celebration October, 2, 2010

The Mary Jaharis Center for Byzantine Art and Culture has been established on the campus of Hellenic College and Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology in Brookline, Massachusetts as a result of a generous donation from The Jaharis Family Foundation. The Center will serve as a premier international research center for the promotion of Byzantine art and culture and host a series of academic programs including seminars, conferences, visiting scholars, special events and art programs.
 
“The Mary Jaharis Center for Byzantine Art and Culture has enormous potential for helping scholars, faculty and students on campus and in the Boston academic community celebrate Byzantium,” said His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios, Primate of the Greek Orthodox Church in America. “We thank Mary Jaharis for lending her name to the Center and for the generous contribution from the Jaharis Family Foundation.”

“The Center will study the myriad ways in which Byzantine society suffused Greek and Roman culture – its art and architecture, its literature and rhetoric, its pageantry and music – with its particular Christian imagination,” said Demetrios S. Katos, PhD, Interim Dean of Hellenic College. “It will also advance Hellenic College and Holy Cross’s mission of infusing modern endeavors with divine spirit.”

Greetings were offered by Reverend Nicholas C. Triantafilou, President of Hellenic College and Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology as well as Reverend Dr. Thomas FitzGerald, Dean of Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology, who noted that Holy Cross is now the only graduate theological school in the western world where Byzantium will hold a prominent place. In addition, Professor Margaret Mullett, the Director of the Byzantine Studies Program at Dumbarton Oaks in Washington, DC, offered her support and congratulations.

The highlight of the inaugural event was an exhibition of icons, curated by the Very Reverend Dr. Joachim Cotsonis, called Kontoglou: The Return of the Byzantine Icon, as tribute to Photis Kontoglou, a leading figure in the revival of Byzantine-style icon painting. The exhibition is now open for public viewing through November 5, 2010, Monday through Friday, from 10am to 5pm in the Reading Room of the Archbishop Iakovos Library Building at 50 Goddard Avenue in Brookline, Massachusetts, on the campus of Hellenic College and Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology.

“Early 19th century icons in Greece and America were not Byzantine in nature,” said Dr. Helen C. Evans, The Mary and Michael Jaharis curator for Byzantine Art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, who lectured during the event.“ Kontoglou linked the Byzantine tradition to modern Orthodoxy and became one of the most important artists leading the revival of Greek Byzantine icon painting around the world.”   

Dr. Ryan Preston, also a specialist in the work of Kontoglou, added, “The 1920s saw an abrupt shift away from naturalism and toward the traditions of folk and Byzantine art. After Kontoglou repatriated to Athens, he campaigned for the return of Byzantine art.”

The lecture presentations were followed by a musical performance by the renowned Byzantine chant group, Schola Cantorum, led by musical director and founder, Nektarios S. Antoniou.

“We hope the Center will serve as a focal point and resource for our two institutions and the wider academic community of the Massachusetts area, where students, faculty, scholars and anyone interested in Byzantine Studies will come together and promote learning and research in the field,” said Dr. Kouroumali, Director of the Mary Jaharis Center for Byzantine Art and Culture and Assistant Professor of Byzantine Studies at Hellenic College and Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology.