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The primary purpose of Christian sacred art is to convey religious meaning. Sacred art manifests themes and visual symbolism from Christianity. It is a means of evangelization in that it leads us to see and contemplate the divine mysteries of our faith through a primary sense. Today’s Christian art is the same as the early centuries of sacred art, that is, to awaken the spiritual by physical senses that lead us to the Triune God. For those are drawn to visual representation, Christian art provides an impelling context not only for the faithful but provides an opportunity for those who have left the Church and those who may be interested in discovering the beauty and mystery of our faith.

From the early centuries onwards, Christian art was produced in great quantities, for churches, clergy, and laity. The Protestant Reformation had an enormous impact on Christian art where much was destroyed and even halted in some regions. In the Catholic countries art continued and flourished during the Counter- Reformation. A sharp decline, however, from the 18th century onwards was evidenced. By the 19th century, the root of sacred art as a visual representation of spiritual meaning that shifted to art appreciation rather than Christian visual themes and symbolism. Dana Gioia writes in the publication, First Things (2013) that there is a lack of art in Catholicism today. He comments, “Catholic artists are almost invisible in American culture today.”

Trained in visual art, I completed my M.A. at Wayne State University in painting. I began by painting landscapes on canvas using acrylic paint and on paper using watercolor. Through out the years, I competed in fine art competitions, and was represented by galleries, with my acrylic abstractions and representational watercolors. My journey in becoming a contemporary artist of Christian art began after my acceptance into full communion with the Catholic Church in 2008. My RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults) experience and my study of Fra Angelica’s frescos at San Marco Convent in Florence, Italy were critical events in my life. They were the two major catalysts that changed my representational watercolor work. Above all, Fra Angelica’s work had a profound effect on me, especially his fresco, The Annunciation.

The first new watercolor I completed was my own interpretation of The Annunciation, (22 x 30”) and it was accepted into a nationwide-juried exhibition at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, Pennsylvania in 2015 at The Saint Vincent Gallery of Catholic Arts. There were only 39 works of art selected for the exhibition, and I was fortunate to have The Annunciation in this exhibition.

This event was extremely encouraging, and I began to study and research the paintings of Jesus, dating back to the fourteenth century. I spent time studying the work of Giotto, Raphael, de Vinci, Caravaggio, Botticelli, Rubens, Velazquez, Durer, Mantegna, Fra Angelico, and, Giovanni Bellini. I started by using many of the same traditional depictions in art history but developed my own interpretations relating to the figures, composition, color variations, and settings. Technically, I borrowed much from my previous work in watercolor, like adding backgrounds, texture to surface areas and my approach to a balanced composition.

All of these works are new interpretations from many episodes in the Bible. Two are entirely newly conceived ideas like Mary Visits Jesus, and The Conversation. In the beginning, I was selecting passages that I was drawn to, both from the Bible, and from the visual art record that had been created in the past. I did not realize that as I painted, I was creating a visual narrative in the events of the life of Jesus Christ: From The Annunciation to Ascension in sixteen works of art.

To express the good news of the life of Jesus Christ through a visual medium speaks to the grace of the Holy Spirit.

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