There is a need in the United States to cultivate and develop a foundation that nurtures and develops an artistic community that is attuned to the needs of the Catholic Church and its traditions. There are many examples of artists that are producing pieces of art for installation I Catholic Churches that are not indicative of the beliefs of the Catholic Church, are not reflective of the high standards of artistic quality which is required of sacred art and promotes a culture of artists that specialize in disposable art, which will not withstand the longevity of the Catholic Church.
The Fathers of the Second Vatican Council demanded that each episcopal conference in countries throughout the world establish a school that encouraged and enabled the development of qualitative sacred art by fostering all aspects of the artistic endeavors that were compatible to the needs of the Catholic Church’s sacred liturgies and most importantly the architectural requirements that determined the proper execution of a Catholic Church as a place of worship and sacramental celebration. To date, such an institution for the development of the sacred arts has yet to take place even though we are more than half a century since the close of the Second Vatican Council.
The United States has quite a few artists and artisans that can fulfill the needs of producing sacred art that deserves a prominent installation in our Catholic churches. Unfortunately, most of the American clergy have fallen into the trap of purchasing mass produced pieces of art from workshops in Italy and China that are not reflective of the qualitative works of American artists and reflective of the unique characteristics that make our American artists and artisans the real value added choice when it comes to commissioning original works of art for inclusion in our Catholic churches, the central places of our worship and sacramental life.
My intention is to establish a non-profit foundation for the Sacred Arts and Architecture that would permit artists and artisans the opportunity to utilize the foundation as a place through which they are able to display their works and negotiate with potential clients in the ecclesiastical field regarding commissions for their works and also to provide a national network of like-minded professionals that would make qualitative Sacred Art and Architecture the central focus of their professional careers both as vocational artists and faithful Catholic Christians.
Representational art in religious spaces, especially Catholic Churches should reflect the highest qualities of materials and resources that are available to vocational artists as they attempt to engage with the Divine Sacred through the manifestations of their artistic qualities and labors. Mass produced works that continuously copy and distribute images of saints, martyrs and other imagery is not what the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council envisioned when they called for the establishment of an institute of sacred art and architecture within each episcopal conference. Their intention and vision was to establish a Renaissance in the multifaceted expressions of the vocational artist that would serve the needs of the Catholic Church with qualitative artistic representations of sacred art that challenged both the artist and the faithful community to transcend through artistic expression towards a deeper and more intimate understanding of God as manifested in the community of the Catholic faith.
Artists and artisans of all types that choose to work in the sacred arts are called to a vocation to share their God given artistic talents with the community of faith, the Church of which they are faithful members and admirable contributors through their artistic talents. The time has come to demand that our Catholic Churches include artistic works of the highest quality of materials, executed by vocational artists that are motivated by their deeply seated understanding of the Catholic faith that is expressed uniquely through the, “artist’s eye,” which gives glory to God through various mediums, bronze, marble, oil paintings, tapestries and architectural designs that are conducive to evangelizing the Word through the activities of the Church.
The Foundation of the Sacred Arts and Architecture will solicit artists throughout North America to participate in educational activities to encourage parishes to embrace the sacred arts as part of the proper celebration of the Catholic liturgy, which is indicative of the hopes and aspirations of the People of God, which is not just the Catholic Church, but all denominations that seek a relationship with the divine and deepen their understanding of faith in the modern world.
In addition to providing a source of education for artists to share their experiences, the Foundation will function as a referral source for all of the artists that wish to belong to the Foundation, so their works are more widely disseminated throughout the United States and will hopefully provide a network that assists the vocational artist in attaining commissions for their works through architectural firms, dioceses and archdioceses, parishes and religious communities that are contemplating a commission of a new work of art for their respective communities, or are determined to build a new church, renovate an existing parish church or just simply want to add an original piece of art to their Catholic faith community.
In the modern world of consumerism and mass production, sacred art does not have a place. Sacred Art transcends the mundane realities of the often-ugly aspects of the modern world, conjoined with the misnomer of utilitarianism, and provides all of us an opportunity to peak into the world of God, the sacred space to which we all aspire through our common Catholic faith to someday be residents of God’s eternal community. Our Catholic Churches deserve and should demand original works of art that celebrate our faith. They should be reflective of the local community, be unique and most importantly have a real sense of permanence, made from noble materials that will withstand the test of time and are not predetermined for replacement within 20 years because of the inferior qualities of their materials
It is a daunting task to initiate a Foundation of the Sacred Arts and Architecture without assistance and counsel. In the past week, it has been my pleasure to consult with many experts that are adept in the legal ramifications of such a foundation, artists that are positive that such a foundation will be successful in its purpose and longevity and finally have had sound spiritual counsel that has firmly assured me that this is a vocational step that is one I need to take.
In closing, I appeal to fellow Catholics and indeed all Christians that are interested in the establishment of a Foundation of the Sacred Arts and Architecture to reach out to me and let me know their thoughts and opinions on the matter. Additionally, I offer an invitation to vocational artists that specialize in the execution of the sacred arts and architecture to contact me so I might share the vision of what the Foundation entails.
Finally, the process of preparing a 501 (c) 3 Corporation is in process. With that said, it is also essential that individuals that are willing to support such a Foundation touch base as well so we might properly fund and establish an institution that is commensurate to the great task at hand, namely the commissioning of sacred art that glorifies the faith, our Church and most importantly our ever loving God, as revealed through the Word, Jesus Christ.