“An Artist’s View of the Byzantine Mosaics of Ravenna, Italy”

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Press Release

Jan 15, 2008

For Immediate Release

Contact: Nadine Fiedler

503-297-1894 x301


“An Artist’s View of the Byzantine Mosaics of Ravenna, Italy”

Susan Sowles presents the 2008 Esther Dayman Strong Lecture

Longtime Catlin Gabel art teacher Susan Sowles will present an artist’s view of the Byzantine mosaics of Ravenna, Italy, on Tuesday, February 12, at 7 p.m. in the Cabell Center on the school campus, 8825 SW Barnes Rd. The event, this year’s Esther Dayman Strong Lecture, is free and open to the public.

In conjunction with the lecture, an exhibition of Susan Sowles’s drawings inspired by the Ravenna mosaics will be on display in the school’s Cabell Center. Also on display will be “Italian Reflections,” Tuscan landscapes by Portland artist Poppy Dully. The show runs from January 14 to February 15. A reception will follow the February 12 lecture.

Susan Sowles, an art teacher at Catlin Gabel School for 40 years before her retirement last spring, was noted for her perceptive views on art history and her studio art classes, where, over the years, she taught students the crafts of ceramics, calligraphy, bookbinding, and weaving. She shared her love of color, pattern, and craftsmanship with hundreds of Catlin Gabel high school students.

Her first visit to Ravenna 10 years ago left her fascinated with Byzantine design and craving another visit in which she could view the famed mosaics with time to reflect deeply on their meaning and visual power. In the intervening years Sowles researched these complex mosaic images, thinking about their place in the history of art and about the mosaics as images that enriched the lives of the people of Ravenna 1,500 years ago when it was the wealthy capital of the Western Roman Empire. Sowles had the opportunity to revisit these 5th and 6th century buildings in the fall of 2007 to view the mosaics again. She will present her thoughts on these lasting works of art at her lecture on February 12.

The Esther Dayman Strong Lectureship in the Humanities was created in 1987 by the Catlin Gabel School board of trustees. The board wished to establish a living memorial to the human and academic values Esther Dayman Strong nurtured throughout her life, and especially as principal of the Catlin-Hillside School from 1944 to 1958. The lecture honors her legacy of lifelong learning by paying tribute to the intellectual excellence demonstrated daily by Catlin Gabel’s own faculty and staff members.

About Catlin Gabel

Catlin Gabel serves Portland and the world as an educational catalyst, drawing together dedicated educators, motivated students, superb curricular resources, and thoughtfully applied technology, in a beautiful and functional setting, all for the purpose of forming bold learners who become responsible action-takers for life. Catlin Gabel is an independent, non-sectarian, progressive coeducational day school serving 700 students from preschool through twelfth grade. Its roots go back to the Portland Academy, founded in 1859. The school occupies 54 acres on Barnes Road, five miles west of downtown Portland.