This lecture considers relationships between identity, memory, and clothing in group portraits of wall painting programs of Late Antique Egyptian monasteries. In these portraits, dress figured monastic identity, forged links across monastic society and through the generations of monastic fathers, and fueled contemplation of the fathers’ teachings. A central concern of this lecture is the sensory experience of clothing by monastic viewers in the continuous unfolding of meaning.
Thelma Thomas teaches Late Antique, Byzantine and Eastern Christian Art at the New York University. Recent publication and exhibition projects have addressed sacred space, the visual and material culture of Late Antique Egypt, especially textiles from Egypt and along the silk routes. She is completing a book about the construction of monastic identity through portraiture and dress and, with Prof. Jennifer Ball (Brooklyn College, CUNY Grad Center) she has begun work for a book on Byzantine silk.