Art of the Month Club: Katy Ganino Reddick
The Art of the Month Club is a regular feature on the WCMA blog. Each month we invite someone special to write about a work from our collection. Find your own favorite WCMA artwork by searching our collection database. You never know, we may invite you to be the next Art of the Month Club member. Today, please welcome, former WCMA museum associate and student associate, Katy Ganino Reddick ’96.
Among my favorite pieces at WCMA is the 12th century Flemish baptismal font that quite literally took up space in the medieval art room—requiring visitors to walk about it. Although at first glance the font appears nondescript, faceted edges and angles create shadows with light. Try sketching it—you will see balance and orderliness and the quiet dignity of almost expressionless faces. Stand as close as you can without touching and peer inside the deep bowl. Imagine the limestone’s color made brighter with the presence of water—perhaps light reflecting against its surface. Feel its fixed, steady presence.
Fonts are art with a utilitarian purpose—welcoming the newly baptized into a life with Christ. People whose names and stories have been lost began their lives with baptism over it and worshiped by its side until their funeral masses in its midst. Many a medieval font remains in situ today still fulfilling its original purpose.
As an undergraduate security monitor, I regularly roamed the halls of WCMA. My one great lapse as a monitor involved this piece. While on duty, I overheard a lively group conversing. As I turned, I saw Whitney Stoddard, professor emeritus, leading friends through the gallery. He was clearly enjoying himself and leaned comfortably back on the font as he made a point. I stared for a moment; he saw me in the distance, smiled amiably and continued on with his story- still leaning on the font. I went and found my fellow student monitor and we agreed there was nothing we could do. For all we knew, Professor Stoddard could very well have brought the font to the museum. Besides, how can you hurt such a large piece of limestone?
Flemish, 12th century, Baptismal Font, limestone. Museum purchase, Joseph O. Eaton Fund.