'Art Is the Blueprint Left for Us' Woman Traces History of Christianity through Great Works

Article excerpt

Byline: Kelly Womer Daily Herald Correspondent

For more than 30 years, Fran Brocker has been teaching others about the history of Christianity. But instead of thumbing through textbooks to tell the story, she walks through galleries and studies artwork that paints a picture of the past.

"Art is the blueprint left for us," said Brocker, who lives in Wheaton. "Christianity is important in the development of our own society, and the growth of the church was a dynamic force. Art shows how the church was developed."

Brocker shares her love for art and knowledge of the church through classes, field trips and private excursions to see great works that create a visual record of history.

She recently wrapped up a six-week series at First Presbyterian Church of Glen Ellyn, where she taught members about the evolution of Christian art over the past 2,000 years.

"Artists were often more accurate than historians because they created their art at the time and aren't looking back at what happened," she said. "It's an important insight."

At First Presbyterian Church and through other courses, she traces the beginnings of Christian art that laid the foundation for the religious symbols and icons used today.

"Artists were working while being persecuted," she said. "But they still needed to illuminate and illustrate their faith. It was basic to human nature."

She then looks at the Dark Ages, Renaissance and Reformation, when there was a backlash against art, and brings students to the modern day.

"There's a resurgence back to art, and more churches are commissioning works and adding art to enhance their worship," Brocker said. "In the last 10 years, there has been a growing awareness that it's OK to illustrate Christian art. …