Dr. Patricia Williams will present “From the Internet to Drug Traffickers: Patron Saints in the 21st Century” at 6:30 p.m. Monday, March 17, at the Waupaca Area Public Library.
Hosted by Winchester Academy, the program is free and open to the public.
Williams, who is professor emerita in the Division of Interior Architecture at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, will examine how the Christian tradition of “patron saints” has been re-designed for use in contemporary culture. She will look at novelty art and craft products that exploit interest in ritual behavior.
The practice that began in Roman times as a secular tradition of patronage, shifted to the Christian practice of invoking and venerating the saints during medieval times. Saints became patrons of people, occupations, places or things based on circumstances surrounding their lives, qualities attributed to them, and symbolism associated with them.
Examples of patron saints for new occupations, for new situations and in the face of cultural change include saints of technology, film, television and pets.
Alongside patrons for new activities, such as St. Isadore of the Internet, FBI and police reports contain information on the rise of folk saints invoked by drug traffickers and smugglers, their sculptural images and medallions found not only south of the border, but in major U.S. cities.
Williams taught cultural and historic design for 27 years at UWSP, retiring in 2010. She earned a doctoral degree from the University of Leeds in England on symbolism in material culture, conducting research in the United States, Europe, Asia and North Africa.
Williams’ work has appeared in books, encyclopedias, and professional journals. She received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in art education and art history at UWSP and taught art in the K-12 school system in Amherst and Iola prior to her university appointment. She and her husband live in rural Iola.
Winchester Academy programs are funded through sponsors and donations from community members who support the Academy. Donations are tax deductible.
For more information about Winchester Academy, visit winchesteracademywaupaca.org or contact Executive Director Ann Buerger Linden at 715-258-2927 or firstname.lastname@example.org.