February 27, 2018
[Digital image available upon request]
Williamstown, Massachusetts—Kevin Carr, Mellon Decade Fellow at the Clark Art Institute, presents the free lecture “The Hagiography of Place: Illustrated Legends of the Zenkōji Triad and the Formation of Sacred Cartographies in Medieval Japan” on Tuesday, March 13 at 5:30 pm. The lecture will be held in the auditorium, located in the Clark’s Manton Research Center.
Hagiography is defined as a biography of saints or venerated persons. Carr poses the questions: In medieval Japan, why did people make pilgrimages and donate to religious centers? What role did the visual arts, material culture, ritual, cartography, and narrative play in constructing a collective perception of sacred places across the Japanese landscape? Through close examination of the visual and textual narratives recounting the foundation of Zenkōji temple in central Japan, the talk explores fundamental themes of destruction and absence, salvation and rebirth in the medieval Japanese imagination.
Kevin Carr teaches at the University of Michigan, where he specializes in the history of Japanese medieval religious art. His previous research focused on ritual uses of narrative art and the relationship between relic cults and hagiography. His first book, Plotting the Prince, considers these issues in light of the practices centering on the medieval cult of the semi-legendary Prince Shōtoku (c. 574–622). While studying at the Clark, he is working on a monograph entitled Topographies of the Sacred in Medieval Japan, which considers the creation of notions of sacred space through art recounting the miraculous origins of religious sites.


The Clark Art Institute, located in the Berkshires of western Massachusetts, is one of a small number of institutions globally that is both an art museum and a center for research, critical discussion, and higher education in the visual arts. Opened in 1955, the Clark houses exceptional European and American paintings and sculpture, extensive collections of master prints and drawings, English silver, and early photography. Acting as convener through its Research and Academic Program, the Clark gathers an international community of scholars to participate in a lively program of conferences, colloquia, and workshops on topics of vital importance to the visual arts. The Clark library, consisting of more than 270,000 volumes, is one of the nation’s premier art history libraries. The Clark also houses and co-sponsors the Williams College Graduate Program in the History of Art.
The Clark is located at 225 South Street in Williamstown, Massachusetts. Galleries are open Tuesday through Sunday, 10 am to 5 pm. Admission is $20; free year-round for Clark members, children 18 and younger, and students with valid ID. Free admission is available through several programs, including First Sundays Free; a local library pass program; EBT Card to Culture; Bank of America Museums on Us; and Blue Star Museums. For more information on these programs and more, visit or call 413 458 2303.
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