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New Liturgical Movement

Porta Croce
Jesus Carrying the Cross

David Clayton has written a really nice post about me on the blog: New liturgical Movement.  It was founded by Shawn Tribe and is dedicated to a revival of interest in the Sacred Liturgy and the liturgical arts.  You can find the post here.  David brings up some very good points related to the role of naturalism in sacred art as opposed to realism.

Sacred Art has always been an important part of my work.  I have dedicated several posts to the subject.  One of them that has a brief description of my approach and goals can be found here.  Unfortunately, the level of serious patronage in the Catholic Church is dismally low.  Money is being spent and contemporary art is being placed in churches but the quality and relevance to creating an environment conducive to spiritual reflection is extremely low or non existent.

Jesus in the Garden of Olives

There is a general misunderstanding of the role of Sacred art among the the faithful and the clergy.  The liturgical arts are not just added decoration to make places of worship cozy and pretty.  Great sacred art has the power to move us into a state of mind and spirit that help bring us closer to the experience of God.  The Church understood this before and one only has to experience the cathedral at Chartres, San Vitale in Ravenna, the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican to see how the proper combination of architecture, painting and sculpture creates holy spaces where the deepness of the liturgy can be truly felt.  Those three places are obviously only a miniscule fraction of the wonderful holy spaces that exist.  However, I would be hard pressed to find a contemporary church that displays the qualities once universally required by the Church.

Below are several examples of my sacred work:

Saint John the Evangelist
David Receiving the Psalms, oil on linen, 30cm x 40cm
The Visitation, oil on linen, 50cm x 60cm
St. Jerome and the Angel, oil on linen, 30cm x 40cm
St. Bernard, after Guido Reni, affresco
The Madonna of the Annunciation, oil on linen, 50cm x 70cm
Madonna study, affresco
La Madonna di Gravidanza, terra cotta, 50cm high
Nativity for Sant Ambrogio, Firenze, mixed media, life-size

2 thoughts on “New Liturgical Movement

  1. I read that article, and it was very well done. When I worked in stained glass sales and restoration a number of years ago I learned firsthand the difficulty of trying to get people in the church – clergy and laity – to even be attuned to visual things (e.g. that their windows needed restoration).

    Case in point: at an Episcopal church in Maryland I pointed out to a man that one of their windows needed serious restoration as it had a major bulge that had developed in it (bulges eventually explode). He was amazed when I pointed it out and said that he never noticed it, even though he sits next that window every Sunday! (Even worse, it was at eye-level.)

    If clergy or laity are attuned to these sorts of things, the next problem is (as always) money, or like you said, getting people to think of the church as a unified environment, and not view visual art as “decorations.”

    For the solo artist the first problem is how to break into the market. In the United States it is dominated by large studios which are, regrettably, run more like businesses than ministries. I know of one (will not say which) whose president is an avid follower of Transcendental Meditation and who could care less about making sacred art, though that is what they “do.” He is more interested in “getting the sale.” The second problem is how to find out if parishes are looking to commission art. To do this it is very helpful to be involved with the architectural community as they are often the “gatekeepers” for all of this.

    Granted, a parson who has a strong personality and is well-established can cut through the diocesan requirements (and there are loads of those usually as well) and by pass the architect when he wants, but in my experience most of these poor priests get so bogged down playing “construction manager” that they don’t have time to get too involved in one aspect of a renovation. And more often than not because of this they mess up the whole project.

    I knew a priest in VA who was building a huge parish and was given money to put in an entire set of stained glass windows (for the Mysteries of the Rosary) but ended up using the money for some other part of the project, and then had to explain to the donor why it was not used for windows!

    Sorry for the long post, but ecclesiastical art and commissions is a very interesting and complex subject that I spent several years involved with. I could talk for hours about it (as you no doubt can tell).

    All the best… love your work!

    1. Thank you James for your comment. You have really identified and explained really well the problem. There needs to be more education with the Church. Art is capable of being a very powerful force. Has everyone forgot that St. Francis was converted by a painting! Thanks again, and I would love to continue this discussion. It is a very complex subject that needs to be studied further.

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