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Unique exhibit shows Stations of the Cross

Karen Langley | Friday, February 11, 2005

A unique father/daughter exhibition by graphic arts professor John Sherman and his daughter Theresa Sherman opened in the Malloy Hall chapel Thursday, rendering their artistic view of the Stations of the Cross.

“This is a rare event that fosters a sense of collaboration on many levels, between the arts and theology, between faculty and student and between a father and daughter,” professor of liturgical studies Father Michael Driscoll said.

The two Shermans spoke about their creative rendition of the Stations and the process of capturing the sacred in a devotional rather than gallery setting.

John Sherman described his interpretation of the Stations of the Cross, highlighting the aspects that make it unique and symbolic instances in each Station.

“The exhibition is a creative interpretation of the Way of the Cross set with the text of 23 languages and a minimal use of images,” he said. “By using languages from all around the world, I hope to communicate that Christ came into this world to demonstrate a path to redemption by his ultimate sacrifice for all the peoples of the world. My intention in this work is to show the journey Christ took to the cross is not only his journey, but my journey and the journey taken by everyone.”

In addition to English, John Sherman presented text in Arabic, Aramaic, Chinese, Filipino, French, German, Greek, Hindi, Igbo (Nigeria), Italian, Japanese, Latin, Lugandan (Uganda), Maltese, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Slovene, Spanish, Swahili, Swedish and Vietnamese.

“In each composition, I tried to arrange the text in such a way to give a starting point for reflection,” he said. “Some of the compositions have a simple image, but in each case I tried to convey meaning by way of typographic arrangement.”

This design was well received by the audience.

“I love that there are so few images, because it is the word that is of importance. This draws contemplatively in a way that a visual display could not,” said Father Michael Joncas, a professor of liturgical studies.

Theresa Sherman, a senior theology major, spoke about the development and history of the Stations of the Cross, which she explored in her thesis paper. She described the standardization of the popular methods of practicing the Stations and focused on changing interpretations from their inception to the current day.

In discussing the origins of the Stations of the Cross, Theresa Sherman described how in the third century, Constantine constructed churches on important locations associated with Jesus’ road to Calvary.

“Pilgrims visited these holy places in Jerusalem and meditated on the Paschal Mystery,” she said. “Believers from all corners of the world would come to Jerusalem and walk through the churches, placing themselves where Christ actually stood.”

Theresa Sherman explained that even the inclusion of certain scenes of the Stations of the Cross has evolved. The Shermans’ exhibit includes stations consistent with those Pope John Paul II used in his 1991 Good Friday celebration. Their set of Stations, which will remain open throughout Lent, is intended to reach out to marginalized Catholics.

“The Stations of the Cross are meant ultimately to send people back out into the world. The devotion of the Stations of the Cross is one way to convey the multifaceted message of the paschal mystery,” she said. “When Jesus bears the pains of society, our reaction should not be to inflict pain on ourselves, but to recognize the pain of others living among ourselves.”