by Zach Tackett, Staff Writer
From November 2 until December 12, the Saint Vincent Gallery will host the Third Nationwide Juried Catholic Arts Exhibition. Each piece was individually selected by Sister Wendy Beckett, of BBC and PBS fame, from a field of many applicants seeking the $1,000 first prize. Entries poured in from across the United States over the summer, and in the end, forty-four pieces were chosen to be displayed among the best.
For the purpose of the contest, subjects were restricted to that which exemplifies the Catholic faith; the subjects were required to be “iconographically recognizable” as well as “appropriate for liturgical uses, public devotion or private devotion.” Ethnic acculturation of subjects was also acceptable for submission.
Saint Vincent Benedictine artist Fr. Vincent de Paul Crosby, O.S.B. had three works of art selected for the gallery. In addition, current student senior Jordan Hainsey, a graphic design major, was selected to be part of the gallery with his photograph entitled St. Martin de Porres. The photograph reinterprets the image of the saint using the face of another student, Carl Jeune, to bring the 16th century canonized brother into the age of modernity.
“I am highly interested in religious art,” Hainsey stated. He also expressed his desire to showcase a modern perspective on a religious icon for Sister Wendy because, “she is very open to inclusive works of art.” When asked about the process behind the piece, Hainsey stated that “the idea was there, but it took hours upon hours to get it just right.”
Sister Wendy chose the bronze statue Ecce Homo, created by Ken Sullivan of Colorado, as the first place winner; Janet McKenzie of Vermont’s oil painting, Journey to Jesus – The Shroud, took second place, and Sarah Hempel Irani’s plaster with faux bronze patina sculpture A Voice in Ramah took third place. Sister Wendy also “honorably mentioned” four pieces each of different styles and mediums and all depicting different scenes. However, Sister Wendy stated in her letter to the public that, “if [the piece] is showing in this exhibition, that they are deserving of their own juror’s mention.”
Upon walking into the gallery, visitors are greeted with an amalgamation of both the old and the new, both paintings and photographs, statues and stained glass, all of which express the same stories and motifs of Catholicism. It also seems that the permanent collection works with the new temporary additions, highlighting the modernity of the new pieces as well as the century-old meaning behind them. Also, students can see “scenes” that seem distant, but are linked by the choice of medium.
Br. Nathan, the curator of the museum, feels that the pieces really do complement each other.
“Take the two portraits of St. Jerome for example,” he said. “Both represent the same saint; however, they show two different sides.” He also stated that he enjoys this collection because the observer can see the same mediums evolving. “You see two bronze statues, standing, one a 19th century French interpretation of Greek sculpture, the other a 21st century American interpretation of Jesus,” Br. Nathan remarked.
Even within the gallery itself, the pieces are constantly working together to show the many facets of the Catholic identity. Many mediums intermingle, and classic style mixes with modern interpretation. Essentially, this gallery welcomes us and educates us on the many ways to see how art can express faith, inspiring meditation on ancient lessons.