This summer, art history graduate student Lizzie Orlofsky presented her research at the virtual Medieval and Early Modern Studies (MEMS) Festival hosted by the University of Kent in Canterbury, England. Her presentation, “The Soul’s Sensational Journey Through the Portal at Kilpeck Church,” stems from her research during a graduate seminar on medieval portal sculpture taught by Dr. Jennifer Feltman.
Kilpeck is known for some of the best examples of Romanesque sculpture in England. Orlofsky contends that a major tenet of medieval Christian theology has been neglected in the scholarship about its portal sculpture, in particular, the relationship of the human senses to its carved imagery and the ways in which these sculptures speak to the bodily and spiritual experiences of the parishioner. In her research, she undertook an Augustinian analysis of the sculptures by interpreting them based on the teachings of St. Augustine’s theories of the senses, which heavily influenced medieval ideas of Christianity. Orlofsky said that she interpreted the sculptures from the point of view of the soul’s journey through the portal sculpture at Kilpeck Church. She discussed ways in which the senses are exemplified through individual sculptural pieces in the portal as well as how these carved images served as teaching tools for the largely illiterate medieval parishioners.
Orlofsky’s interests include twentieth-century American art, specifically the artwork of Zelda Fitzgerald, as well as gender studies and the semiotic relationship between text and image. Orlofsky graduated summa cum laude from Troy University in 2019 with a BS in studio art and a minor in cultural studies. Before coming to UA, she served as a curatorial intern at the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts where she helped curate the exhibition Zelda (canceled due to Covid-19). She is a recipient of The University of Alabama Graduate Council Fellowship and recently won second place in the Harrison Award for Excellence in Research for her presentation at the UA-UAB 26th Annual Graduate Student Symposium.
For more information about The University of Alabama’s programs in art history and studio art, visit our Degree Programs page.