In an effort to showcase the diversity of religious art in the area and celebrate the intersection of artwork and the Catholic faith, Angelo Ray Martinez, a Holy Cross professor and the director of the St. Joseph Gallery organized and curated ‘The Art of Faith.’ Open to visitors on the Holy Cross campus until Dec. 16, this exhibition features 10 artists from a variety of artistic and Catholic backgrounds, all with the united vision of sharing what faith looks like to them.
The pieces on show include both artwork commissioned specifically for the exhibit and pieces like that of Melonie Mulkey, an adjunct professor of visual arts. Her work, ‘The Five Wounds,’ was featured in a two-person exhibition called ‘Innermost’ at the University of Notre Dame earlier this year.
Mulkey, an experienced artist, said this exhibit is different than some of the others she has been in.
“This is, in a really long list of exhibitions, the first one I’ve been in that specifically addresses and talks about faith,” Mulkey said.
Mulkey’s excitement at the unique nature of the exhibition and its artwork is also reflected in local artist and high school art teacher Anastassia (Tess) Cassady, who made last year’s Paschal candle for the Basilica of the Sacred Heart.
“Fusing Catholicism and interesting, heartfelt and original art is something that hasn’t been seen in a long time,” she said. “When I do something that’s artistic and religious, fellow artists will respect the artistry of it but can say ‘I don’t want anything to do with Christianity, why would you mix the two’ so I was really impressed with the fact [Martinez] found such a wide variety of art.”
Bringing together the local community of Catholic artists was a major component of Martinez’ vision, he said.
“There aren’t a lot of art venues that dedicate themselves to exhibiting contemporary faith-based artworks, so it can be difficult to find the conversations and discourse that is necessary to progressing your work,” Martinez said.
This type of collaboration is something Cassady said she is all for and thinks it could serve a greater purpose in reaching the wider Catholic community.
“I think it’s a great idea, especially for parishes to have someplace to both bring artists together, but also educate the congregation with original artwork that they have never seen before, rather than the same printouts that are faded [churches] that they don’t really notice anymore — not because it’s not striking, but that it’s nothing new,” she explained.
Martinez expressed that he hopes both Catholics and non-Catholics can gain something from the exhibit.
“I hope that visitors are able to reflect on their own Catholic faith in a deeper way if they are of the faith, and if they are not, that they are able to better appreciate some of the beauty and mysteries of Catholicism,” Martinez said.
As for the effects of this exhibition, Mulkey said she is confident it will make a positive impact on the Catholic communities’ response to more modern, faith-based art.
Contact Kate Naessens at email@example.com