Even as we marvel at the wonder of nature, there are interiors of our creation that define the essence of our humanity. They unify the best of religion and culture, and stand as historical milestones for the ages.

Take a look at the following photo. I noticed how many people were left with their mouth agape. This is the kind of space that defies explanation.

On this edition of Saturday’s Around the World, we take you to the Sistine Chaple. Even if you aren’t religious or don’t consider yourself and art-buff, TED speaker and Art Historian Elizabeth Lev will take you on a journey through art, religion, and history in ways you have never heard before.

The Sistine Chaple contains some of the most iconic imagery in the Western world. The marvelous renderings transcend religion and are a monument to the full capacity of human creativity.

In an age when we were still discovering what lay beyond the horizon, Michelangelo was creating a masterpiece that has been revered for centuries.

I have never heard an art historian speak so passionately, Elizabeth Lev transcends religion with a narrative of creativity and an unbridled love for what she does. Here is her captivating talk from the TED stage…

Via: TED 1

Must we be so dismissive of art that doesn’t align with our own system of beliefs? Religions from every corner of the globe have created artistic traditions to accompany them.

Perhaps we can create a common ground to talk about religion through the art it inspires. Art allows us to distance ourselves from belief. If we talk about a creation story depicted in a relief or painting, we are not arguing over if that story is “correct” but instead opening ourselves up to learn about a belief system different from our own.

Art can become a common ground for a dialogue about the differences and similarities of religious traditions. It is not combative and doesn’t have to be interpretive. Unlike a text or a sermon, we can appreciate a work of religious artwork as an object and marvel at its beauty.

Perhaps it is too much to say the study of art can end religious quarreling, but it certainly can help us to begin speaking with one another in a constructive way.

If you want to see a modern artist who is using traditional Islamic influences in her art to start such a dialogue, check out the work of Anila Quayyum Agha. Or check out some of our other favorite TED Talks!

Thanks for stopping by today. Join us in changing the dialogue about our world!

Stay beautiful & keep laughing!



Scroll down to see six more articles proving “it’s still an amazing world,” or head to our homepage to check out our latest articles, circles, and archives! Even better, subscribe below to receive the latest from EWC right to your inbox!


  1. Lev, Elizabeth. “The Unheard Story of the Sistine Chapel.” TED.com. TED, Dec. 2015. Web. 26 Apr. 2016. <https://www.ted.com/talks/elizabeth_lev_the_unheard_story_of_the_sistine_chapel?language=en#t-712252>.

Liesl Ulrich-Verderber

COO Ever Widening Circles

Liesl is a camera-toting traveler, a global story seeker, and an aspiring—but more often floundering—yoga lover. She can be found on Instagram @Liesl.UV