Thursday, February 7, 2008
Response to column on Sacred Art from Houston!
Dear Hugh - Although very late, I just found your post of 09/03/07 on Sacred Art and Architecture. Bravo! Are you working or making progress on developing an American Institute for the Sacred Arts? Would be very interested to hear the latest on this.
The closest thing I know of is The Foundation for Sacred Arts with H. Reed Armstrong, who holds very similar views as yours, and mine by the way!
There is also the more ecumenical CIVA - Christians in the Visual Arts, which is open to protestants, Catholics and everything else in Christendom too.
One thing I believe regarding the sacred arts is that our Church, pastors, building committees, "liturgical designers" and donors must recalibrate expectations for religious art -- it must be made to teach the faith as did the great sacred art of millennia past. Figurative art must be re-emphasized in order to speak in a universal language that all can read and learn from when they come to the church and thereby come across the art therein...
For example, what can one learn from abstract expressionist swishes and swoops that are very often erected in a Catholic church in the space where real(istic) Stations Of The Cross should be, or in all the modernistic stained glass that is wholly unitelligible? What kind of conversion of the heart can be inspired from confusion of the eyes?
And I would agree wholeheartedly with the comment that Catholic artists should be commissioned to do art for Catholic churches. Why do so many buy into the fallacy that transmittal of the Catholic faith via art can be done by artists who arent Catholic at all, or perhaps even militant atheists with deep contempt for Catholicism or faith in any form?
You may be able to tell that I am very interested in this subject of art for the Catholic Church. Through the grace of God, I have made a career switch and am now working as a mosaic artist in traditional Roman marble and Byzantine glass styles. I have recently completed 4 lifesize mosaic panels for a catholic church here in Houston featuring the 4 evangelists. I look forward to doing more, and there are irons in the fire across the southwest. We can do similar quality work for 1/3rd the cost of that done in Italy.
I read a good many books on Catholic art and architecture and would be interested in seeing a list of your favorites. Mine include Doorley, Rose, Armstrong, McNamara, etc...
Also am reading Couturier to see where it all started to go wrong...dont think I am yet strong enough to stomach reading any of Vosko.
I welcome your reply, and will also try to become a more frequent reader of your blog, but I cannot leave comments since I dont have google mail.
All the best, and I welcome your reply,