Holy Art! 13 Spectacular Secular Installations in Sacred Spaces

Graced with Light by Anne Patterson, San Francisco

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Twenty miles of ribbon in hues inspired by stained glass hang inside San Francisco’s Grace Cathedral, representing “a series of light pathways, connecting heaven and earth, manifest as ribbons. The ribbons carry our prayers, dreams and wishes skyward, and, in turn, grace steams down the ribbons to us.” It took artist Anne Patterson months to prepare for the exhibit, starting with a 3/16th-inch scale model made with embroidery floss, and about eight days for an entire team to install the 1,000 ribbons by hand.

Enlightenment at the Salisbury Cathedral, UK

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International art collective Squidsoup hung over 6,000 individual controllable light points within England’s Salisbury Cathedral, which is home of the best kept original copy of the Magna Carta, in honor of the 800th anniversary of the document’s signing. ‘Enlightenment’ creates a physical interactive space that each visitor must navigate, stepping in between the dangling strands of light.

Buddha’s Birthday Lanterns, Korea

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Named one of the 50 most beautiful places to visit in Korea, Busan’s Samgwangsa Temple is awash with color each May as thousands of lanterns are hung on virtually every surface in celebration of Buddha’s birthday. While not secular, this one definitely counts as a stunning art installation in a sacred space, and it must be incredible to experience in person.

Kaleidoscopic Nasir al-mulk Mosque, Iran

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And finally, a place of worship that is indisputably an incredible and almost psychedelic work of art in itself the Nasir al-mulk Mosque in Iran. While all of its dizzyingly intricate patterns and dappled displays of technicolor light seem like the result of some sort of artistic collaboration, the mosque is actually just built this way, with stained glass windows and pattered tiles making it seem almost too beautiful to be real. As modern as these effects may look in photos, the mosque was actually completed in 1888.