Most people have heard of the Sistine Chapel and they know of the artist who painted the ceiling – Michael Angelo – but there is much that it hidden. At least until now. For psychologists the paintings are not just a representation of the Christian version of creation – no, the images force us to ask how we fit into the great theater of life and to ultimately confront the question of who we are.

Who is she:

She is an art historian who graduated from the University of Chicago in1989. She did post-graduate work in Italy and there she got really hooked on the art, culture and history of Italy, in general, and Rome in particular. She said that if she had only one day to live, she would want to live it in Rome.

Why you should view:

Simply stated, she does a great job of connecting the past with the contemporary times of Angelo. But in addition, her brilliance is in showing the connection between then and now and foreshadowing the future.

Discussion questions:

  1. Do a bit of historical research and find information about the early life of Michael Angelo. Focus on determining what the early factors were that lead him to believe that he could paint biblical scenes 66 feet off the floor that people could view and understand.
  2. What is creativity and how do psychologists measure it?
  3. What were some of the factors that motivated Michael Angelo to persevere with his artistic work on the Sistine Chapel. Explain them using Maslow’s hierarchy of need.
  4. Discuss the role of art in creating lasting connection between people from diverse geographical locations and cultural background. In your response consider if we should consider art to be the universal language?
  5. Draw a sketch of some period of your life. It could be a day, a year or the whole thing. Besides telling about you, what other information about the world that you live in be revealed?
  6. Using the theories of Piaget, Erikson, Bronfenbrenner and Freud, describe the stage that Michael Angelo was at when he was at the peak of his creativity and productivity.


The Unheard Story Behind the Sistine Chapel with Elizabeth Lev.


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