[Hillstream] John Giuliani, the son of Italian immigrants developed an early interest in drawing which led him to study art at Pratt Institute in New York. Soon his religious calling took precedence, and he was ordained as a Catholic priest, temporarily putting aside his art to give his life to the church as a chaplain and priest while continuing to study the humanities.
He earned M.A. degrees in classical literature and art, theology and American Studies. Combining his interests in art and theology he apprenticed with Russian icon master, Vladislav Andreyev, to learn thoroughly that ancient tradition. For fifteen years Giuliani taught Latin, the Humanities and American Film at the Bridgeport Connecticut Diocesan Seminary, at Fairfield University and at Sacred Heart University. During the late 70s Father Giuliani embarked on a new pursuit, founding the Benedictine Grange, a small monastic community in West Redding, Connecticut where he continues to pursue a variety of ministries flowing from the contemplative life.
After years of teaching and nurturing his faith community he returned to painting with an inspired vision and a renewed drive drawing from his intensive love of art. In resuming his painting he began making iconic depictions of Native American peoples as Christian saints. A number of these paintings are installed at churches in the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, also in Rapid City and at numerous institutions throughout the United States.
Asked to explain his decision to portray the faces of the sacred as Native Americans, Giuliani explains:
“As a Catholic priest and son of Italian immigrants I bear the religious and ethnic burden of ancestral crimes perpetrated on the first inhabitants of the Americas. Many have been converted to Christianity, but in doing so some find it difficult to retain their indigenous culture. My intent, therefore, in depicting Christian saints as Native Americans is to honor them and to acknowledge their original spiritual presence on this land. It is this original Native American spirituality that I attempt to celebrate in rendering the beauty and excellence of their craft as well as the dignity of their persons.”
As seen in: The Ubuntu Reredos, created for the 76th General Convention of The Episcopal Church, Anaheim, California.