It has been a great privilege to participate in the Creative Inquiry Program at Greenville Tech this semester. As I plan to major in Art History, conducting research is a vital part of the discipline. While I will be regularly tasked with performing research and sharing my findings as I continue my education the difference has been the ability to choose the precise topic I wished to explore.
I have learned a good deal about conducting research and gained a better understanding of content organization in order to meet academic expectations. These are tools that I will carry with me for the rest of my career. I have advised other students to consider taking advantage of the opportunities offered through the Creative Inquiry program.
While I was exposed to Irish menhir and Irish high crosses during travel to Ireland some years ago the Creative Inquiry course afforded me the opportunity to learned a great deal more about these objects and explore my initial thoughts that the Irish menhir were somehow related to the Irish high crosses. Through my research I see clearly that the Irish high cross demonstrates how the indigenous culture of Ireland has not only survived but has relied upon the beliefs, language, and artistic styles of invading cultures to create a new identity. Careful analysis of the prehistoric menhirs produced in Ireland along with an exploration of Early Medieval standing stones demonstrates how the indigenous and invading cultural practices have been grafted to produce the Irish high cross. The relationship between these are not evident at first but a closer look at the cultures, artistic approaches, and beliefs in relation to the use of these stones provide a clear connection. The connection between these uses of large scale stones are immediately obscure due to the fact that prehistoric menhir have very little to no carvings on them while the Irish high cross is quite elaborate and has intricately carved designs. I have been able to trace the relationship between the prehistoric menhirs and the Irish high crosses through noting the continued use of large scale, upright stones and the very specific changes that occur in the design motifs and imagery used to adorn them in relation to the arrival of the Christian faith and the migrating Scandinavians.
I would like to thank my mentor, Julie McArdle, for all of her wisdom and guidance. Prof. McArdle has been a support to me throughout my time at Greenville Tech and It has been a wonderful privilege to work alongside her. I would also like to thank Greenville Tech for providing me with this opportunity.
This semester I put my effort into finding the perfect project for my future career. I found that many places are more than happy to allow students to research at their facilities. While Creative Inquiry is benefiting Greenville Tech, student research will also promote the places that we are able to establish connections. The Greenville zoo was excited to be a part of this program, but my research is based on copperhead snakes and the one currently residing at Greenville zoo is too sick to remain there. My efforts were worth it even with this set back because the Greenville Zoo led me to the Copperhead Institute! At the Copperhead Institute I am working with a veterinary student to study the reproductive cycles in male and female Agkistrodon contortrix (North American copperheads). This institute very recently purchased an ultrasound machine for snakes and I am excited to be one of the first to use this machine. Over the next two months I will be measuring the size of ovaries and testes as these snakes come out of hibernation.
While spending time in Ireland I became interested in the prehistoric standing stones located throughout Ireland. In one village, Glencolmkille, I learned of an Early Medieval Irish missionary, St. Columba, who studied the local worship of the sun and the use of standing stones. In his attempt to convert the local population to Christianity St. Columba removed the original standing stones used for sun worship and replaced them with standing stones carved with similar imagery that told the story of Christ. This past summer I rekindled my interest in this story; I’m curious if this was a common practice in the British Isles during the spread of Christianity and what relationship the prehistoric standing stones might have with the Irish High Cross. For my Creative Inquiry project I am researching the initial uses of the prehistoric standing stones and attempting to trace their evolution into the Irish High Crosses of the Early Medieval period.