Ability and Its Limits


It is our duty as men and women to proceed as though the limits of our abilities do not exist, wrote Pierre Teilhard de Chardin. The Jesuit priest might as well have been addressing artists directly.

If the artist’s idea begins with a desire to create perfect Beauty as a visual metaphor for God, and if they are not careful, they will be trapped into creating from their own, non-divine ideas of what perfect beauty is. The artist who seeks instead to point to perfect Beauty also faces the handicap of seeking through their own, if merciful, eyes. For both artists, the source of the authentic and the source of the original are the same – perfect Beauty echoing itself within their own heart, seeding an impulse to create. The door to perfect Beauty lies within the artist and the pathway that leads to the door is prayer.

Movements in the art world and the aesthetic choices of the 20th century institutional church have served as often to blur as to clarify the origin of beauty in the divine. In 2009, artists have no clear path to follow in order to build a carreer in sacred fine art or liturgical art that will be self-sustaining. Art schools and academies teach color theory and form as though it occurs in isolation from the human soul. If this will change, if art will see more widespread inclusion in the 21st century church, it will be because the reader has brought about that change.

On View in the homepage masthead and above: High Falls (2008) by Ferris Cook.

2008 Winner of “Gold Prize” Turner Acrylic Paint Competition, Kobe, Japan

Acrylic paint on 3-d wood structure (reverse perspective), 16″ x 44″ x 6″

On View in the Daily Episcopalian header: Day Dreaming by Patrick Hughes 120 x 248 x 28 cm

On View in the Speaking to the Soul header: Internity by Patrick Hughes, 81 x 190 x 30 cm

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