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Going Out in Tile

Tree of Paradise: Jewish Mosaics from the Roman Empire is on display at McMullen Museum of Art, Boston College, Chestnut Hill, through June 8. The artworks exemplify the common visual language shared by Jews, pagans, and Christians.

Three spectacular mosaic panels remain from a Creation vignette section: a large fish, a dolphin, and a duck. Most of the floor has been laid out symmetrically, but not this dynamic area. In the watercolor, vines or ropes spin from the mouths of the fish and the dolphin, suggesting they have been caught and will perhaps be served, according to Jewish tradition, when the messiah comes.