Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Summer Plans

Big Bun I

I've just finished varnishing Saint Kateri Tekakwitha in God's Creation, and will be reinstalling that in the church at Rosa Road when the varnish is dry. But what do I do now with no saints to paint? I have a few projects lined up for the near term. I'll be participating in an invitational show at the Albany Center Gallery in July. On July 26th I'll be leading a workshop at the annual Tekakwitha Conference titled Painting St. Kateri Tekakwitha: Iconography and History. The conference takes place in Fargo this year, and I'm excited to see some of the great plains. Besides these events I'll be doing what I love: painting, sketching, and planning my classes for the fall.

In September, Katria and I will begin work on a commission for Terra Nova Church on the theme of the Last Seven Words of Christ, and maybe another portrait or two. I may start a new blog, and will post the details here. Plans are tentative at this point.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014


If you weren't there, you missed a great party last night. Thanks to Charles and Linda Becker, who helped do the honors. For those of you that missed it, above you'll see the completed painting, which will soon hang in the 1803 Union Street church of the St. Kateri Tekakwitha Parish. Below is an excerpt from my speech at the unveiling.

"I’d like to thank Charles and Linda Becker and the other donors who made this painting possible. I'd also like to thank the parish community for their involvement in this project, through the support and collaboration of the Art Committee, but also through the emails and comments I’ve received on my blog.

A while back I told a friend I’d be working on this commission. He was happy for me, but he asked what the appeal of her was: what miracles did she perform? She died in her mid twenties and he wasn’t aware that she had done very much during her life. The first miraculous happening doesn’t occur until after her death on April 17th, 1680. This is the change in her appearance asserted by her biographers: Pierre Cholonec writes, “Her face, so marked and swarthy, suddenly changed about a quarter of an hour after her death and became in a moment so beautiful and so radiant that I observed it immediately.” This is after she’s died. But other would miracles follow. Within years of her death the site of her burial had become an important pilgrimage site. All of this is indicative of her character: her humility, her absolute dependence on God. This is a challenge to us. After all, nothing is less American than dependence. We are brought up to be independent. But paradoxically, it is in our poverty that we find true riches, in giving that we receive, and in dying that we find true life.

The gospels are full of this inverted value system. Christ is continually challenging his disciples to see the truth in spite of appearances. It is in response to the topsy-turvy value system of the Kingdom of God that prompts the disciples, in the 17th chapter of the Gospel of Luke to say to the Lord, "Increase our faith." Jesus replies, "If you had faith the size of a mustard seed, you would say to (this) mulberry tree, 'Be uprooted and planted in the sea,' and it would obey you’

You see, we naturally compete. I have this much, you have that much. What Jesus is saying is that regardless of how little we think we have, it is more than enough to do marvelous things. But we hear Christ’s instruction to store up treasure in heaven, his description of faith the size of a mustard seed, and we think, “So! It is quantifiable!” How tragic is it that we can even become materialistic about faith. But St. Kateri calls us to renunciation and humility. It doesn’t matter how many miracles you perform, bible verses you memorize, people you convert, how many loaves and fishes you multiply. Trust God, and God will accomplish it. 

St. Kateri lived humbly before God, embracing a life of prayer and meditation, and displaying the love of God for all around her. She Trusted that the greatness God had in store for her might not even occur within her lifetime. In this she is an example to us. 

So what could I say to my friend who didn't think she had enough miracles? The love of god permeated her life to such an extent that her form could not contain it. It spilled forth beyond the expiration of her body in healings, miraculous appearances, and the edification of indigenous Catholics to this day."