Bringing the Catholic Church to Others Through Art - A Letter from Sara
The second letter of our Cultivating Sisterhood short-series
A Note from TCW
In the second letter of our Cultivating Sisterhood short-series, Sara reminds us that no matter who we are or where we go, we can always bring a little bit of the Church with us to others using our unique gifts & talents. Thank you Sara for inspiring us to embrace the gifts God has given us & to always be open to those around us.
To learn about The Catholic Woman's Sisterhood theme for this quarter's collection of letters, click here.
(Click to enlarge the photos)
I am an artist. This is what makes me feel alive- bringing something from out of my head into a physical form for others to see and enjoy. I am constantly inspired by the world around me, always jotting ideas down on whatever paper I have nearby. Much of my work focuses on making connections to Catholicism, including its many traditions, practices, and beliefs.
I graduated with a Master’s of Fine Art (MFA) last year and it was a difficult time of discovering how to use my artistic talents with the world. In the contemporary art world, sincere displays of faith (especially of more conservative religions like Catholicism) are taboo and almost unheard of. Grad school pushed me in many ways and I had to develop a thicker skin and consistently remember the truths of Jesus that remind me that I have a specific purpose for pursuing life as an artist.
I’m constantly learning how to be an artist and a Catholic woman, using each to strengthen the other. I want to share about my graduate thesis art exhibition and how I used my artwork to spark conversations about women and the Catholic church. First- a little background, my piece was titled Body of Christ: Structure, Support, Sustenance. It was 3 transparent crinkle sheer curtains that were each about 4 x 8 feet. They hung from the ceiling down to the floor in a triangle formation with dowel rods anchoring both ends. On each curtain, I hand-stitched a life-size body outline of myself matching up with various physical elements of the church. For instance, aerial outlines of all the churches I have ever attended became like muscles, the road lines surrounding those churches became like veins, and ribs were matched up with pew outlines. It was a deeply layered type of self-portrait and a huge 4 month undertaking.
At the night of the thesis exhibit’s opening, each Master’s candidate had to briefly speak about their work in the show. As a very shy and introverted person, just using a microphone to project to the large crowd of attendees was intimidating enough, but through God’s grace, I spoke clearly about my piece, its originating ideas, and the process of its creation. I talked about the use of repetition in my art and how it makes the process become meditative for me. I like for my work to display the commitment and dedication that it takes to be both an artist and a practicing Catholic. God never tires of giving me chances to learn how to better myself and to share his truths with my world through my art.
Throughout the evening of the show’s opening, I learned much more about my work from conversations with viewers of various backgrounds. They each gave me a deeper appreciation of our faith and a belief that artwork can speak to people regardless of its form or original meaning. Many of the viewers were unfamiliar with Catholicism and I like to hope that my work may have taught them some new aspect or piqued their interest to ponder bigger questions. I think that every type of creative work has the potential ability to touch or impact a viewer, you just may never know the specific ways. I am happy to be able to create things to put into the world and humbled that viewers take the time to care about them.
Blessings to you all!
Get to know Sara
Tell us about yourself!
My name is Sara. I’m 24 and currently work as an artist doing a couple different jobs including teaching, building my own studio practice, and working in a pottery studio.
What do the first two hours of your day look like?
After getting up, I read the daily Mass readings and a daily devotion. Sometimes I’ll glance through emails or social media (though that’s a habit I’m trying to break), then I eat breakfast (which is often yogurt with granola). Afterwards I get ready to head to work.
Describe your favorite part of your current occupation.
At my pottery studio job, I enjoy helping customers accomplish their creative vision on their pieces. And as a teacher, I really like seeing my students get excited about the development and execution of their projects.
What's one fear that keeps you up at night?
The many unknowns of the future- God has continually shown me His faithfulness and I know it’s under control but sometimes I still lie there and worry.
Tell us about the first time you experienced a string sense of belonging in the Catholic Church.
While attending a FOCUS conference during my 1st year of graduate school; it was a time when I was transitioning and trying to develop a new faith community in my post-college life. During the night of Adoration with the other 5000 conference attendees, I felt the strongest presence of Jesus as the priests processed by with the Blessed Sacrament. I was touched very emotionally and the experience reminded me that Jesus cares about and knows me deeply. The experience inspired one of my first-year MFA thesis show works, I decided to boldly share my faith in a much more explicit way than I had previously.
Tell us about a woman you look up to.
I look up to my mom. She is incredibly hard-working and self-less, always making sure that my dad, brother, and I are taken care of often before her own needs. I also admired my Nana, she passed away almost 4 years ago, but she was a constant supportive presence in my life and with my artistic dreams.
Favorite character ever. Go!
Hermione Granger. I’m a huge Harry Potter fan, having grown up reading the books and seeing the movies many times. I like how she uses her bravery and brainy nature together while remaining fiercely loyal to her friends.