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copper pennies, cattle bones, pavers, wafers, black cloth
The Blanton Museum of Art, University of Texas, Austin

The image in this essay is of an art installation at The Blanton Museum of Art in Austin, Texas that occupies an entire space of its own. A room within a room, in which the art, "How to Build a Cathedral," fills the entirety of the subdued space.

The visitor is permitted to step inside the installation, curtained on four sides by ceiling to floor black mesh curtains (filmy and weighty), and stand or walk the square perimeter of the installation on an interior border of simple gray pavers. The ceiling within is a stalactite "chandelier" of cow bone: white bones suspended in uniform order from the ceiling and lit from above. The bones funnel visually into a thin cord of stacked Eucharist wafers falling into a sculptural sea of shiny new pennies. The space has the sacramental hush and reverence we associate with the interiors of cathedrals and the metaphoric elements with which we erect them: rock, money, sweat and death, sacrament, obscurity, light. It is a beautiful space. It feels sacred. The meaning, if one can say such exists outside the visual, feels immediately and profoundly understood. We make the profound from the material, we imbue the simple with meaning. What is sacred is born of the ordinary.

Does a poem enlarge the world,
or only our idea of the world?
- from "Mathematics" by Jane Hirschfield

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