Bringing My Faith to Others Through Art
(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!