By Hillary Asbury

My favorite thing about studying in Italy was getting the chance to travel and see religious art and architecture around the country.

The history was so rich, and I absolutely relished being surrounded by it. Everywhere I traveled there was a main cathedral, usually at the city center, always referred to as the “Duomo,” not for the often domed architecture but for the Latin word for “house.” As the city’s main dwelling place of God, it was often built imposingly large, made to be visible (and the campanile, or bell tower, heard) from any point in the city. It was a beacon, the center of daily life.

By Hillary Asbury

I have yet to encounter a single church body that does not utilize a logo or image of some kind to represent them. It may be a simple cross or dove, perhaps just a square of color overlaid with the church’s name. But there it is, a symbol of the church’s identity; it communicates their heart and mission, who they are as a congregation, how they want to be seen by the world. It’s a big task for a small piece of art, but its value is unmistakable.

By Hillary Asbury

The triumphant cross has long been one of my favorite representations of the cross.

There is something so elegant about what is says about our Savior. The cross sits atop an orb which represents the Earth—that’s all it is. It is so simple, but it says so much. It represents Christ as Savior. Christ as King over all. Christ victorious. Christ arisen. It tells of a God, a Creator, whose creation has rebelled over and over again, bringing death upon themselves and the world they were given. It speaks of a Creator who purchases and creates new life for a sinful planet.

By Hillary Asbury

At the end of next month, I will be exhibiting at my church’s district convention in Irvine, CA.

This means that for the next few weeks I will be gearing up: getting my booth materials ready and organized, counting inventory, sending files out for print, and matting prints. I don’t enjoy this part particularly, but traveling with my work is always a little nerve-racking, and I insist on everything being done the right way before I go. As much as I get anxious about everything being just so, I love going to these conferences.

By Hillary Asbury

Michelangelo Buonnarotti’s “Holy Family” is also referred to as the “Doni Tondo” in reference to its round shape (“tondo”) and the family that commissioned it (the Doni family).

It is perhaps one of my very favorite oil paintings in history. It resides at the Uffizzi in Florence, Italy, and the first time I saw it in person, I was enchanted, though I couldn’t say why at the time. I remember being pulled in by the rich colors and smooth brush strokes first, and then being carried away by the sweeping composition.

By Hillary Asbury

The visual arts are an important part of the life of the Church, even if it is sometimes difficult to see it.

 In some churches, the use of art is bold and seamlessly intertwined with worship and liturgy. Paintings, mosaics, carved marble, and stained-glass windows adorn ancient and modern sanctuaries alike. In some of these churches the artwork takes over the entire building, manifesting in an overwhelming display of God’s word, reminding us that there is something bigger than us, something outside of ourselves that bursts into our lives and claims us. Many times, the imagery sprawled across the architecture of these churches endeavors to tell the entire epoch of law and gospel, of sin and salvation, from the fall of Adam to the resurrection of Christ.

By Hillary Asbury

Every month I will be featuring an “Illustration of the Month,” a digital image that can be downloaded at www.hillaryasbury.com, for free, for use in church or home. My hope is that this simple offering will aid in the edification of our families and communities.

This month’s image (available for the month of May only) is an illustration inspired by Ezekiel 37: 1-14, The Valley of Dry Bones: