The Gallery at Saint Christopher’s seeks to present sacred art of high quality to the congregation and to the local community by offering:
- sacred art that helps viewers see Scripture and issues of faith in a new way;
- visual expression of faith that enhances spiritual development;
- educational opportunities to expand visual literacy;
- the development of a permanent collection.
Spanish Colonial Art: St. Christopher
St. Christopher’s has added to its permanent collection a 17th/18th century Spanish Colonial wooden statue of St. Christopher, the patron Saint of this church. St. Christopher stands carrying the Christ child on his right shoulder and has a staff in his left hand. The Child holds a globe topped with a cross that signifies his rule over the entire world. The heightened realism of the statue was intended to provoke a powerful emotional response, stirring the viewer to greater religious devotion.
This carved wood statue was a collaborative work that typified Spanish-colonial sculptural production. A sculptor carved the wood, which he then gessoed, filed, and smoothed. After the carving was finished, one painter executed the encarnación (flesh tones) of the figure while another painted the clothing. Sculptures such as this one were often used in processions in Spain and Portugal.
Christopher means “Christ-bearer,” and he is the patron saint of travelers, appropriate for a church in a community of vacationers. We are grateful to Christopher and Joyce Knight for this beautiful gift that will add to the church’s growing collection of religious art.
Summer 2017 Exhibit: East Meets West: Women Icon Makers of Western Ukraine
The sacred art of the East comes to The Gallery at St. Christopher’s with a special summer exhibition devoted to the works of four women artists from West Ukraine.
East meets West: Women Icon-Makers of Ukraine features 23 icons by Ivanka Demchuk, Natalya Rusetska, Ulyana Tomkevych, and Lyuba Yatskiv in their first group show outside of their hometown of Lviv, the cultural capital of the region. Lviv (also known as Lemberg, Lwow, and Lvov) has been a crossroads of different cultures, ruled in modern times by the Austrian Habsburgs, Poland, and Soviet Russia. It has long played a pivotal role in the Ukrainian quest for a national identity and was central to the popular movement that brought about independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. West Ukraine also lies on the boundary where the Byzantine East meets the Latin West. The dominant faith of much of the region is Ukrainian Greek Catholicism, a branch of the Catholic Church that follows the Eastern Orthodox form of worship, including the veneration of icons. This intermingling of cultures and faith traditions in West Ukraine has resulted in a style of sacred art unique in the Christian World. Suppressed by the Communist regime, Ukrainian Greek Catholic culture has experienced a Renaissance since the breakup of the Soviet Empire.
One powerful expression of this cultural renewal is the new school of iconography represented by these four women artists. They are respectful of the canons of a conservative sacred art form, while experimenting with different media and color palettes. They offer contemporary variations on time-honored themes with borrowed motifs from Ukrainian folk art. What makes the innovative works of this quartet of women iconographers all the more impressive is their success in a genre of sacred art traditionally dominated by male artists.
Winter 2017: Jesus: Good Shepherd and Lamb of God. With over 30 drawings, paintings, original prints, sculptures and photographs, this exhibit explored, through the eye of the artist, how this theological concept has been interpreted from the 17th century to the present. This display included artists from the Philippines, Japan, Bulgaria, England, Germany, Slovakia, Italy, Netherlands, Israel, Argentina, Greece, and the United States.
The exhibit began with a photograph by Roger Varland titled Cain and Abel and two pieces of Abraham’s sacrifice of Isaac as a kind of foreshadowing to the ultimate sacrifice of Jesus as the Agnus Dei (Lamb of God).
Jesus is the Good Shepherd par excellence. Psalm 23 says, “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.” Jesus explains “I am the good shepherd; I know my own and my own know me, as the Father knows me and I know the Father, and I lay down my life for the sheep” (John 10:11–5). This portrayal of Jesus as the Good Shepherd has been a favorite of Christians since early Christianity and still today resonates with the faithful. Artists such as Sadao Watanabe, Eric Gill, Dimitris Moulas, and James Young each explore the topic with personal and skillful imagination.
Jesus as the Lamb of God is a theme that runs throughout the Scriptures. He is our shepherd in the sense that he cares for God’s flock, but he is also the lamb in the sacrificial sense. Because the lamb is humble, gentle, and innocent, lambs were often engraved on the tombstones of children as seen in Kathy Hettinga’s Lambs of the Saint Luis Valley. In Christian symbolism, the lamb represents Jesus, the Lamb of God. Standing with a banner, the lamb represents the risen Christ triumphant over death. Standing with a cross and a gash in its side, it symbolizes the passion of Christ. Seated on a throne or a book, the lamb represents the judgment of Christ. Artists such as Henry Moore, Bernard Buffet, Wayne Roosa and Tyrus Clutter are included in this section of the show.
Autumn 2016: St. Francis: Troubadour for God. St. Francis ranks just below Christ, the Virgin Mary, and the angels as a favorite subject in Western sacred art. The frescoes Giotto painted of the life of St. Francis in Assisi and Florence are milestones in cultural history, and the saint’s likeness appears in works by Cimabue, Giovanni Bellini, Caravaggio, El Greco, Zurbaran, Rubens and other Great Masters.
The images of St. Francis on view in this exhibition are the creations of a diverse group of international artists and artisans. You can also see a serigraph by John August Swanson, a wood engraving by Fritz Eichenberg, and lithographs from a Franciscan series by French graphic artist J. Frederic Loisel. Also included is a large processional cross, known popularly as the St. Francis Cross, in front of which St. Francis dedicated himself to the service of God. A group of photographs from present day Assisi take the viewer to this beloved city as it appears today.
It is hoped that Saint Francis: Troubadour for God will help viewers see this remarkable saint from a deeper perspective than just a lover of animals—to embrace Saint Francis as one of the most remarkable saints of the church who can inspire Christians in the 21st-century.
The congregation is encouraged to read the following books, which will help bring this exhibition alive. Rector McGurk suggests a volume on Franciscan spirituality, Eager to Love, by Richard Rohr. Curator Sandra Bowden recommends Reluctant Saint: The Life of Francis of Assisi, by Donald Spoto.
Most of the pieces in the show are borrowed from the collection of John Kohan, who has an internationally known website, www.sacredartpilgrim.com. Kohan was the chief correspondent for Time to Russia for many years, and his site reflects his keen skills in writing about the artists and schools of art. To read an essay by Kohan on this exhibit, click here: St. Francis of Assisi: Troubadour of God, by John Kohan. Mr. Kohan lead a gallery talk on Sunday, September 18, 2016, at 11:15 am.
Summer 2016: Crucifixion: Frederick S. Wight and other 20th Century Artists. The centerpiece for this show was the large Modern Crucifixion triptych painted by Frederick S. Wight in the early 1930s when he was living in Chatham. All of the characters in the painting were sea-faring folk of Cape Cod that Wight knew, most of whom have been identified. To read a recently published article about the spiritual implications of this piece, click here. This exhibition offered an intimate glimpse into how artists of the last century artistically wrestled with the crucifixion. Twenty artists were brought together to offer a dramatic visual dialogue about how the crucifixion and its relevance in recent history are envisioned. Included in the show were such artists as Georges Rouault, Marc Chagall, Eric Gill, Pablo Picasso, Otto Dix, Lovis Corinth, Ed Knippers and Nancy Snooks. To read an essay on the show written by Sandra Bowden, Curator, click here: Crucifixion Essay
Winter/Spring 2016: Alfred Manessier: Composer in Colors—Suite de Pâques and other lithographs. Works of the non-figurative French painter and stained glass maker of sacred art, Alfred Manessier, were on display in this meaningful show. The bulk of the exhibition, the 1978 Suite de Pâques was a series of fifteen abstract images, many consisting of luminous color radiating from beneath dark latticed patterns. The show included several other religious lithographs as well.
Wilimek: We All Got Up to Dance
Autumn 2015: Picturing the Parables, a Christians in Visual Arts traveling exhibition, related to the life of Christ. Twenty artists restated the stories of Christ from new and unique perspectives, with time-honored to non-traditional media. These works varied from the narrative representational to the more abstract. Included in the exhibit were Parable of the Sower by DeLynn Coppoletti (2010), Go Fish by David E. Levine (2010), and We All Got Up to Dance by Gregg Wilimek (2003).
Summer 2015: Delro Rosco: Voice Over the Waters. The 26 works in the exhibition were seascapes inspired by scripture, everyday life, and beauty found in nature. The works were the restful of the artist’s deeply personal dialogue with God and an ongoing journey in search of hope.
Winter/Spring 2015: Otto Dix: Matthäus Evangelium. Featuring 36 lithographs by the German expressionist, this show told the story found in the Gospel of Matthew. Dix is known for work that focused on those at the margins of society, an aspect that was strongly felt in this show.