Showing posts with the label art

Waiting on a Dead World: Science and Being Human


Our Lady of Guadalupe Celebrated in Art

In 1521 – Our Blessed Mother appeared to San Juan Diego on the Hill of Tepeyac, near Mexico City.
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Art, Evolution and Aquinas

Someone left stenciled handprints on Maltravieso Cave wall. Quite a few 'someones,' apparently.

Marking a wall can leave adolescent graffiti or murals like Orozco's "Omnisciencia."

I think it's a very "human" thing to do. So do scientists. That's why most figured the folks who made cave paintings were like us: Homo Sapiens. That may be so, but it's not what a new analysis shows.

If those stencils are as old as the research says they are, we're going to be reevaluating what "human" means. That got me thinking about art, being human, and a new species of bird that really is new. They didn't exist until a few decades back.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

Satan Didn’t Make Me Do It

Depending on who you listen to, Satan prowls Earth's surface, lives in the White House, lurks in Hell, or doesn't exist.

About Satan and devils in general, I think C. S. Lewis made a good point....

...I like most of Gustave Doré's work. That's his illustration for Canto XXXIV of Dante's "Divine Comedy," Inferno....

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Art, Truth, and Reflecting

("Not All Times" – posters, art prints, greeting cards, and postcards available on

"l'art pour l'art," "Art for art's sake," popped up in the early 19th century.

The idea is that "the only "true" art, is divorced from any didactic, moral, or utilitarian function." George Sand, Friedrich Nietzsche, and Chinua Achebe, said it was an empty phrase, self-contradictory, and Eurocentric, respectively. (Wikipedia)

I wouldn't go that far, but I think it's a silly idea: at least when applied to anything other than doodling to pass the time.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.


The Year of Mercy/Jubilee of Mercy started on Tuesday, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception.1

In my home parish, it's also when we started receiving the Eucharist under both forms: our Lord's body and blood.

If you think that's sounds gory and repulsive, you're not alone. Following our Lord has involved public relations issues from day one ...

...We'll be using Latin for parts of Mass during Advent, too: which is fine with me. I like Latin. I can even understand a little of the language. Mercifully, though, most of the Mass is in my native tongue.3 — Which brings me back to the Year of Mercy, Pope Francis, and getting a grip....

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A Place for Art in Churches

Why do Catholics pray "unto an idol of wood, metal, stone, and the like?"

I'm pretty sure that was what a chap meant by "is this stones and wood true?"
"is this stones and wood true ?

"... #TheTruthCaster: ... praying, gazing unto an idol of wood, metal, stone, and the like."
(Response to a Twitter post) As a convert to Catholicism, I can see why some non-Catholics sincerely believe that we're idol-worshipers.

We're not idolaters, but I've long since stopped trying to convince zealots that their preferred reality isn't entirely accurate.

On the other hand, those comments started me thinking about Catholic churches and art, and reminded me that I haven't talked about art and idolatry for a while.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

Christmas Musing: Preti's "The Visitiation" and Our Search for the Infinite

When we turned rounded the corner to the left and into the Baroque room at theVirginia Fine Arts Museumthis morning, my eyes welled with tears. There it was; the painting I had visited the museum for, a painting called "The Visitation" by 17th century Baroque masterMattia Preti, a Calabrian and a protege of Caravaggian naturalism.

How fitting the painting first went on display here on Christmas Eve.

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Homo Erectus Engraving, Long-Lost Relatives

A researcher with a digital camera noticed faint marks on a half-million-old shell. It's the earliest known abstract mark: made by Homo erectus.

Scientists discovered genetic traces of a previously-unknown group of people, Denisovans, in a Neanderthal's DNA a year ago.

Detailed analysis of the Neanderthal DNA reveals details of that Neanderthal family's history: and a few genes from another previously-unknown group....

...The woman we know as KNM ER 3733 lived about 1,700,000 years ago....

...The human family has changed a bit since her time: most of us have shorter arms and legs now; our foreheads are smoother and more nearly vertical; and we're probably better at singing opera. I'll get back to that....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

Right Before My Eyes

Studying Art history in college, I wondered why we spent a good chunk of the semester concentrating on Catholic church architecture. This was especially puzzling because I was in a State University, and the teacher was outspoken about her own atheism.

In time, I understood. Churches are built to "speak." They are intended to offer, along with the printed or spoken words uttered within them, a special language of their own...(continue...)

Art Celebrates The Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Sept. 8: 

Feast  of the Nativity Mary
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Neanderthal Art, DNA MREs, and Sliding Rocks

About 39,000 years back, maybe more, Neanderthals made a mark that looks like a hashtag. Maybe it was a 'you are here' sign, the first tic-tac-toe game, or something completely different.

I think humanity's back-story, implications of DNA's high phosphate levels, and why rocks (occasionally) move in Death Valley, are fascinating. Your experience may vary....

...Folks have known that God's creation is vast and ancient for thousands of years: and seemed confident that God wasn't overextended. ... I figure that part of my job is appreciating God's creation: not telling the Almighty how it should have been designed....

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Joining the Universal Banquet

One of the stained glass windows in my parents' church included a beautifully-done image of Jesus knocking at a door: an illustration of Revelation 3:20. Today, I recognize it as very similar to Warner Sallman's "Christ at Heart’s Door."

Most of that window's glass was replaced during a major building renovation. The new glass was brighter, but I missed the old window: and still do.

It's possible that someone thought the unsubtle colors and simpler shapes would make worship seem more "relevant." "Relevance," real or imagined, was all the rage around that time.

Protestant churches, like the ones my family attended, went through liturgical ricochets in the '60s. Some rewrites of the Apostles and Nicene creeds were — odd. Meanwhile, screwball gimmicks committed 'in the spirit of Vatican II' were upsetting some Catholics.

I get nostalgic now and then: but I don't yearn for the 'good old days.' My memory's too good f…

Portrait of a New Saint

My husband and I are fortunate to have in our possession this beautiful painted portrait of Pope John Paul II, which was a gift from one of our daughters-in-law--who happens to be a college friend of the artist who created it, a talented young lady named Carrie Mitchell.
We loved it when we received it shortly after she married our son; but after yesterday's canonization ceremony in Rome, and the subject's official elevation to sainthood, it is even more precious to us.

If you'd like to learn more about the gifted artist behind this portrait of Saint JPII, a young woman who believes that art has the power "to express ultimate Beauty, God himself," you can read the full String of Pearls blog post here.

Easter Eggs, Art, and All That

Decorated eggs aren't a Christian invention: folks were trimming ostrich eggs 60,000 years back. I gather that folks in Mesopotamia started the Easter Egg custom: using real eggs.

From 1885 to 1917, Peter Carl Fabergé supervised the design and crafting of several dozen very fancy 'eggs.' Fabergé eggs are still famous, one stayed in Russia, and that's another topic.

In today's America, stores sell plastic eggs and egg-dying kits.

The Easter Bunny is a hare, not a rabbit, emigrated from Germany in the 18th century, and that's yet another topic....

...I like the matter-of-fact look of Francesca's "The Resurrection of Jesus Christ."

Quite a few artists took a more flamboyant approach....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

Images of the Ephiphany

Tradition has it that the wisemen who came to honor the infant Jesus were named Caspar, Balthasar,and Melchior. So we mark everydoorway to the outside with their intials'plus a sign of the cross and year: 20+C+B+M+14

They had studied the Hebrew Scriptures and the Messianic prophecies of the Old Testament. Among these they found the words of Balaam: “A Star shall come out of Jacob; a Scepter shall rise out of Israel” (Numbers 24:17, ). They were acquainted with the prophecy of Micah:“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you shall come forth to Me the One to be Ruler in Israel” (Micah 5:2, ; Matthew 2:5, 6).
On the night of Christ’s birth, a mysterious light appeared in the sky which became a luminous star that persisted in the western heavens (see Matthew 2:1, 2). Impressed with its import, they determined to go in search of the Messiah. They knew not where they were to go, but followed as the guiding star led them.

Mary in the Art of J. Kirk Richards

I went on a image search binge this week, unearthing countless images of Mary onto and from Pinterest.  It is an eclectic mixture with everything from obscure fine art, modern abstracts, old, icons, stained glass, statues and even ethnic and folk art. So in honour of the Feast of the Holy Rosary, a collection:  Mary in the art of J. Kirk Richards Annunciation many more images>>

The Holy Family – Rembrandt

Reposted from: Costing Not Less Than Everything

I posted this painting in another post and wanted to write more about what I thought and felt about it.
This is a domestic scene, first and foremost – quotidian and earthbound. The dwelling is dark, probably cold, draughty and damp.  Rembrandt painted several similar pictures of the Holy Family, in which the relative meanness of the surroundings contrasts with domestic warmth and love. Saint Joseph is, as is often the case,  back in the shadows, an older, shaded, quieter figure. The Madonna and Child are always foregrounded. That was the convention of the times – but he is not redundant.  Joseph is working at his trade (and there is rather a nice rendition of a drill hanging on the wall). Whatever the artistic convention, Venerable Fulton Sheen contends that the common conception of Joseph as an older, less powerful man than the conventional young Jewish husband of the day is incorrect. He describes Joseph as young, virile…

Saint Lucy's Day - The Year's Midnight

reposted from: Costing Not Less Than Everything.

The Last Communion of Saint Lucy – Tiepolo

A Nocturnal Upon Saint Lucy’s Day, Being the Shortest Day –  John Donne
‘TIS the year’s midnight, and it is the day’s,
Lucy’s, who scarce seven hours herself unmasks;
    The sun is spent, and now his flasks
    Send forth light squibs, no constant rays;
            The world’s whole sap is sunk;
The general balm th’ hydroptic earth hath drunk,
Whither, as to the bed’s-feet, life is shrunk,
Dead and interr’d; yet all these seem to laugh,
Compared with me, who am their epitaph. Study me then, you who shall lovers be
At the next world, that is, at the next spring;
    For I am every dead thing,
    In whom Love wrought new alchemy.
            For his art did express
A quintessence even from nothingness,
From dull privations, and lean emptiness;
He ruin’d me, and I am re-begot
Of absence, darkness, death—things which are not. All others, from all things, draw all that’s good,
Life, soul, form, spirit, whence they bein…


Corpus Christi Procession – Hipolit Lipinski, 1881

This piece is prompted by a couple of posts I saw about a procession being held in Brighton to mark the Feast of the Immaculate Conception.  Such public displays of the Catholic faith are very rare these days and are to be applauded - I think that the more of them that take place, the more people will get used to them. After all, most of us have marched in many a parade or demonstration marking secular or political events – and I have seen large public marches and demonstrations marking other faiths. Not so very long ago, the Salvation Army band used to march up the road I was then living in every Sunday morning.  I do not think that these processions are wholly about witnessing to the faith in public – they are also spiritual occasions and another manifestation of the way in which the Church and the practice of the faith is also material and physical.  And let us not forget that this is a very old tradition; the illustrat…