Art in the News

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Wosbald
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Art in the News

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+JMJ+

Finding God in the art and work of Corita Kent

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Sr. Corita Kent's 1964 work "The Juiciest Tomato of All" is seen at the Theological College in Washington Feb. 17. An art exhibit of her serigraphs, titled "Beauty and the Priest: Preaching with the Artwork of Corita Kent," was on display there through March 3. (CNS/Tyler Orsburn)

Artists are like theologians, but more fun. I loved my art history classes as a college student, not only because of the incredible beauty that would flash across the screen from old-fashioned slide projectors, but because art and architecture helped me better understand theology and spirituality. Our human experience of the ever-evolving mystery of God was made clearer for me through Gothic paintings and cathedrals than the pages of the Summa Theologica. In our own time, artists such as Sr. Corita Kent creatively reveal the inner workings of the Second Vatican Council as it continues to emerge.

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A photo of Sr. Corita Kent is seen at the Theological College in Washington Feb. 17. An art exhibit of her serigraphs, titled "Beauty and the Priest: Preaching with the Artwork of Corita Kent," was on display there through March 3. (CNS/Tyler Orsburn)

Which is why 40-plus years later, having spent 11 of those years teaching art history myself, I have fallen in love again for the first time with Sr. Corita Kent, the sassy pop art nun from Los Angeles whose work and fame got her on the cover of Newsweek magazine as an exemplar of "The nun: going modern."

She wasn't just a thorn in the side of Cardinal Archbishop James McIntyre of Los Angeles, she was a whole crown's worth of thorns for the poor guy. He struggled with some of the reforms of Vatican II, such as laypeople speaking English at Mass, and nuns wearing earrings and having thoughts of their very own. Corita, a mature, free-thinking spirit, gave her bishop no small measure of agita, and he gladly returned the favor.

Sister Mary Corita of the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary was already a renowned art teacher in Los Angeles when Pop Art and Vatican II each burst on the scene in the early '60s. After seeing Andy Warhol's now iconic Campbell's Soup silkscreens, she was inspired to take religious subjects to a new level, one which merged the sacred and the secular into one, non-dualistic entity. Corita boldly illuminated the incarnate presence of God in our consumeristic, materialistic, fame-obsessed plastic world. She was a woman with Vatican II spunk, a regular Hildegard of Bingen on the streets of Hollywood who used her prolific gifts to speak truth to power and promote peace, justice and Catholic social teaching in the midst of civil rights and the Vietnam War.

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Sr. Corita Kent's 1967 work "Stop the Bombing" is seen Feb. 17 at the Theological College in Washington. (CNS/Tyler Orsburn)

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Sr. Corita Kent's 1965 work "Enriched Bread" is seen Feb 17 at the Theological College in Washington. (CNS/Tyler Orsburn)

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Sr. Corita Kent's 1964 work "For Eleanor," is seen Feb. 17 at the Theological College in Washington. (CNS photo/Tyler Orsburn)

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Sr. Corita Kent's 1964 work "That They May Have Life" is seen Feb. 17 at the Theological College in Washington. (CNS/Tyler Orsburn)

All of a sudden in that swinging decade, God popped up in new guises, no longer locked in a tabernacle to which only a priest had access. And just as Warhol breathed new life into ordinary cans of soup, Corita took the logos and advertising slogans of Wonder Bread to reveal a fresh, modern look at the true Wonder Bread, the Eucharist. "All that is seen and unseen," words heard at Mass in English for the first time, freshly exposed the sacramental nature of ordinary life. "God's not dead he's bread," she famously wrote on one of my favorite prints, pointing out the timeless beauty and power of the Eucharist as something more powerful than a mere weapon of reward and punishment or Sunday obligation.

Recently, in the space of one week, I made two pilgrimages to Theological College in Washington to visit an exhibit of signed, original prints by Corita Kent. It was organized by my friend and rector of the seminary, Fr. Dominic Ciriaco, who was promoting Corita's art as an inspirational source for homilies and preaching. On my first visit, I spent one whole morning completely alone with Corita, a cup of coffee, my prayer journal, and sketchbook. Pure heaven!

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"The Only Rule Is Work," a watercolor and pen and ink work by Mickey McGrath (Provided by Mickey McGrath)

On the wall facing me was a print with the word "TOMATO" in bright red color. Written on it in smaller letters, it states that "Mary Mother is the juiciest tomato of them all," referring to an ad campaign for tomato sauce at the time she created it. Once again, she linked the sacred and the profane in ways that proved appalling to more linear-thinking churchy types. It is the very image that broke the straw of the cardinal's back whose angry response ultimately led to Corita's departure from the convent and the dissolution of the community of the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary of Los Angeles.

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"Wondrous Bread from Heaven," a digital image by Mickey McGrath (Provided by Mickey McGrath)

On my second visit a week later, I traveled with three pilgrim/friends: a nun and two priests, two of whom are Franciscans, all three of whom are huge Corita fans. There we sat at Theological College in a spacious room with high Gothic windows while clerically clad seminarians passed by in the hallway. And while it wasn't exactly the setting I would have ever expected in a million years to finally encounter Corita Kent in person, it was the ideal setting because it exposed through beauty so many parallels between her tumultuous times of church reform and our own.

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"Pop Body of Christ," a digital image by Mickey McGrath (Provided by Mickey McGrath)

I thought of Jesuit Fr. Greg Boyle, another Los Angeles mystic with pop art spirit, who writes: "The point of the Incarnation is that Jesus is one of us in the ordinary." I am sure "G-Dog" and Corita would get on famously — along with Daniel Berrigan, who was both Corita's friend and Greg Boyle's confrere. He once said, "The great revolutionary virtue is endurance."

And I'd better invite Dorothy Day to this gathering of spirits because she, like Corita, loved Daniel Berrigan. Last but not least on the guest list of my imaginary heavenly banquet is none other than Cardinal James McIntyre because he was a devoted and generous supporter of Dorothy Day's! Who knew? What an interesting dinner party it would be with Wonder Bread on the menu.
 
 
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"It is not enough to point the finger or attack those who do not think like us. That is a wretched tactic in today's political and cultural wars, but it cannot be the method of the Church."
    — Pope Francis, Meeting, Sept. 17, 2016
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Art in the News

Post by MrPiper »

Aww man... I thought this was going to be about "ArtGuy"
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Post by Del »

If anyone is interested in evangelization through beauty and art, there are many better sources of edification than National Catholic Fishwrap. There is at least one article dedicated to art in every issue of GILBERT Magazine.

Pope Benedict urged us to evangelize the world through beauty, as the world has built an active immunity response against goodness and truth.

Oddly, when modernists seized control of the Catholic Church (by the "spirit" of Vatican II), the first thing they did was to attack beauty. Our old churches were wreckovated, beautiful sanctuaries were stripped bare, and new churches built in that era (60's and 70's) are remarkably dated and ugly.

I don't want to disparage Sr. Corita Kent. She wanted to reach out to young people, and in the spirit of her age "pop art" was thought to be a good thing to be doing. I blame Fishwrap for failing to have learned anything at all in the last four decades. (Or rather, they did learn. They read John Paul II and Benedict XVI. They just hate the New Evangelization. They want the '70's back.)

All I know is that the new religion books in my Catholic grade school were full of cartoony pop art. It was dumb, and we knew it. The overall message was that religion is dumb. Small wonder that kids grew up, went to college, and abandoned their faith.

But the old religion books for children in my childhood home had art like this painting, recently posted by Sid Stavros. It was beautiful.

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Post by Hovannes »

Where could we witness beautiful Christian Art in the wild. so to speak?
Fewer and fewer homes, shops and offices display any example at all.
Christ apparently has been cancelled.
We've been woke all along!
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An NYC art exhibit shows the beauty and blight of Earth's climate today

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Kaleidoscope of Coralscapes: Memento Mori" by Lois Bender (Photo by Jim McDermott)

In mid-December, 13 artists concerned about the global climate crisis staged a five-day pop-up art exhibition and conversation series at the Ceres Gallery in New York City. The exhibit, titled "Mayday! EAARTH," was the fifth exhibition that Marcia Annenberg has curated on the environment.

Annenberg's introduction as she took me around the exhibition was peppered with frightening facts about the state of our planet: one-third of Pakistan underwater this summer while other rivers around the world are drying up; the terrifying speed of storm surges today, like at Fort Meyers, Florida, during Hurricane Ian in September; deforestation in and around the Amazon rainforest is releasing the carbon stored in those trees' roots into the air, transforming what was a carbon sink area into a massive carbon source.

Many of the other artists I spoke to had their own horrifying details to add about traumas done to our planet that drive their passion to create environmentally themed work.

"From the time I graduated from high school in the 1970s to now, a quarter of American birds have gone extinct," Noreen Dresser told me.

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"Rushing c22" by Noreen Dean Dresser (Photo by Jim McDermott)

The world's frogs are not far behind, Kathy Levine noted as we stood before a set of delicately-sculpted frogs on recycled paper made to look like wood. "Thirty percent of all frogs around the world are actually facing extinction," she shared. "They're one of the biggest groups of animals being affected. They're disappearing before our very eyes."

Susan Hoffmann Fishman's oil paintings offered a series of aerial views of the landscape around Siberia and the Dead Sea, where melting permafrost and sinking sea levels — a result of human overuse of the sea's water — are each causing numerous sinkholes. (There are 7,000 around the Dead Sea alone, Hoffman told me.) She painted the landscape around the Siberian holes in greens and oranges, as though the land itself is riven with pain.

Ann R. Shapiro's work seemed to express her own pain — consisting of digitized drawings, paintings and photographs which together depict a shadowy lobster boat against a nightmarish background of furious, unreal colors. "The more you read, the angrier I'm getting. Don't people understand what's happening? Don't we get it?" she asked. "We'll always have a landscape, no matter how high the water rises, how hot it gets. But what kind of world are you getting into?"

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"Raging Climate 5, Ominous" by Ann R. Shapiro (Photo by Jim McDermott)

In addition to the eerily apocalyptic color palettes, a number of pieces involved the use of overlapping perspectives. Fishman's work gave an aerial view, yet within it certain areas were radically expanded.

Similarly, architect and artist Lisa Reindorf presented what looked to be a cityscape from above as sea levels rise. But as you stared at the work, the water pouring in from the left side of the image also looked like a wave crashing down. The crisis we're in is so dramatic, even the laws of physics seem to be collapsing.

But there was unexpected shelter to be found among this work, as well. Lois Bender's wall of undersea coral stencils glowed in brilliant reds and blues, greens and pinks and purples. And Bender's own commentary on the corals was equally radiant. "It was just fascinating to learn about the forms — there's the fan form, the bubble form, the brain form," she listed them, laughing with delight.

"The coral animal looks like a plant, like a vegetable because they stay put. But they're animals," she said with wonder.

I pointed out how unexpected it is to find hopeful work in an art exhibit about our climate emergency. "I wanted to show the beauty before it can become blight," Bender said.

"The irony is that sometimes disasters are beautiful. Corals fluoresce before they go white and die. That's the purple," she explained, pointing to one panel. "I wanted to do the corals in beautiful color. Maybe that'll inspire people to save it."

Angela Manno, who paints gorgeous icons of at-risk animal and plant species, sees her work portraying such things as sea turtles, birds and microscopic zooplankton as having a palliative quality, as well. "When we talk about all this destruction, how can you wrap your mind around it except to say that it is pathological?" she asked.

When you're doing icons, she explained, the process of creation gives the images themselves a far greater voice in that ongoing struggle. "As opposed to Western art, where the artist imposes themselves on the canvas," she explained, "here the images are supposed to impose themselves on you. The beauty of the colors, the meaning, the symbolism — it was very healing to me."

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Icons of a sea angel, left, and a firefly by Angela Manno (Photo by Jim McDermott)

When it comes to how to talk about climate change, said Danielle Eubank, who has traveled the world painting images of the world's water sources, "we're always asking, 'Is it the carrot or the stick?' Do you show people how beautiful things are, or do you say, 'Hey look guys, we're bleeding?' "

Dresser agreed, saying, "People cannot imagine or engage with ecological disaster. It's too much information." The artist's challenge, she said, is to find that "tipping point" that gets the audience over that hump.

In one of her two paintings, a tiny bird's nest floats vertically upon a canvas that appears almost like water. It reminded me of the reed basket Moses' mother placed him in before she sent him down the Nile, hoping he would find a home before he drowned. Here, there is no chick in the nest, no sign of life. It seems another ominous sign of the doom upon us.

But Dresser was more drawn to the wonder of the nest itself. "This is from Wisconsin. These parents, they built this from horse hair. That's real horse hair." she explained. You could hear the admiration in her voice, one artist inspired by two others.

This piece is not about disaster, she said, "It's just a way to get people to focus on that little tiny miracle. That's all I want them to get."
 
 
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"It is not enough to point the finger or attack those who do not think like us. That is a wretched tactic in today's political and cultural wars, but it cannot be the method of the Church."
    — Pope Francis, Meeting, Sept. 17, 2016
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Post by Del »

Wosbald wrote: 15 Jan 2023, 08:26 +JMJ+

An NYC art exhibit shows the beauty and blight of Earth's climate today


Angela Manno, who paints gorgeous icons of at-risk animal and plant species, sees her work portraying such things as sea turtles, birds and microscopic zooplankton as having a palliative quality, as well. "When we talk about all this destruction, how can you wrap your mind around it except to say that it is pathological?" she asked.

When you're doing icons, she explained, the process of creation gives the images themselves a far greater voice in that ongoing struggle. "As opposed to Western art, where the artist imposes themselves on the canvas," she explained, "here the images are supposed to impose themselves on you. The beauty of the colors, the meaning, the symbolism — it was very healing to me."

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Icons of a sea angel, left, and a firefly by Angela Manno (Photo by Jim McDermott)
Propaganda and blasphemy. Not art.
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Post by Hovannes »

I'd prefer Gustave Dore's drawings butt hell, what do I know about Art?
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Post by Del »

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Boston unveiled a new monument to Rev. Martin Luther King this weekend. "The Embrace"

Do an image search on "Boston MLK The Embrace" to see it. It is huge and hideous, so you need to see it from several views to take it all in.

MLK is worthy of a $10M monument, but this monstrosity is an insult. There is nothing about the statue that evokes the man or his life, work, and sacrifice.

If you weren't told that it was a monument to MLK, you would never guess. When you are told what it is, you still scratch your head in confusion.

I just can't figure out how a committee could judge hundreds of proposed statues and settle on that one.
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Post by Del »

$10M ‘Wasted’: Family Of Coretta Scott King Has Crude Comparison For MLK Statue
+JMJ+
A family member of Coretta Scott King, the wife of civil rights icon Martin Luther King Jr., despises a new monument unveiled late last week in Boston to honor him.

The 22-foot tall bronze statue, dubbed “The Embrace,” was meant to capture a hug Dr. King shared with his wife after he won the 1964 Nobel Peace Prize, CBS News reported.

It cost $10 million and was designed by Hank Willis Thomas and MASS Design Group, the report said, and is located in Freedom Plaza of the Boston Common.

“The mainstream media … was reporting on it like it was all beautiful, ’cause they were told they had to say that,” Seneca Scott, Coretta’s cousin, told the New York Post. “But then when it came out, a little boy pointed out — ‘That’s a penis!’ and everyone was like, ‘Yo, that’s a big old d***, man.”
“If you had showed that statute (sic) to anyone in the hood, they’d have been like, ‘No, absolutely not,’” he continued, according to the Post. “Ten million dollars were wasted to create a masturbatory metal homage to my legendary family members — one of the all-time greatest American families.”

Seneca Scott blamed “woke” activists.

“The woke algorithm is just broke, I don’t know what else to tell you,” he said. “If you went through all of that and that’s what you came up with, something’s wrong.”
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Post by tuttle »

A couple thoughts hit me about that MLK thing.

Depending on the angle, it can be viewed as a big ol d*** as the kid said, or, hmmm...let's just say, a lady getting her carpet cleaned...

Even without the unfortunate vulgar angles, from the best angle you can view it from, it's still horrendously ugly.

Modern godless people cannot create beautiful things on purpose. There's an innate feeling that beauty points to the Almighty. They know this at some level and act accordingly.

10 million dollars?

This sculpture dishonors MLK more than any Confederate monument that was torn down over the last few years.
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