‘Art of Faith’ show opens online Feb. 18; brings hope, connection despite pandemic
UPDATED ON FEB. 25
ROCK ISLAND — Art has a reach that goes well beyond what the eye can see, and that became evident as the 10th annual Art of Faith Sacred Art Show and Sale kicked off on Feb. 18.
“The reality of art is that it inspires us, it lifts our minds and our hearts up to the Lord. An artist uses the gifts and talents that God has given to them in order to help share the story of our faith,” said Coadjutor Bishop Louis Tylka, who offered the welcome and blessing via video for the opening celebration.
Like many other events this year, the show is taking place online, with PowerPoint presentations from the nine artists involved, videos of past shows, and showcases from area musicians available through Feb. 28. It may be viewed on the Art of Faith Facebook page and the St. Pius X Parish Facebook page.
The theme for this year’s event is taken from John 15, “I Am the Vine, You Are the Branches.” Two original songs — “The Vine and the Branches” and “The Triumph of the Cross” by Mark Aaron Kline, a singer and songwriter who teaches at St. Vincent de Paul School in Peoria — premiered at the opening celebration.
While the ongoing pandemic prevented people from gathering physically, the Scripture chosen for the theme makes it clear that we are still connected, according to Jill Rodts of Milan, founder and director of the Art of Faith, which has been hosted by St. Pius X Parish since the beginning.
“‘I am the vine and you are the branches’ — we are all connected in this mystical body of Christ, with Christ as the head and we, the members of the church, his body,” she told The Catholic Post. “We need to embrace this mystical union with Christ and his church.”
A DWELLING PLACE
Rodts explained that by abiding in the Lord and having the Lord abide in us, we become a dwelling place for him. In doing that, she also provides a place for the artists to come and share the beauty they’ve created, even during this challenging time.
In addition to Rodts, who paints, writes icons and poetry, and makes note cards, the artists who will be featured this year are:
- Judith Costello of Davenport, Iowa: mixed media, painting (unwindstudio.wordpress.com);
- Paul Herrera of Moline: calligraphy, carved slate (artlegacyleague.org);
- Father Bill Kneemiller of Davenport, Iowa: rosaries (holylandmilitaryrosary.org);
- Sue Kouma Johnson of Lincoln, Nebraska: paintings, jewelry (catholicartandjewelry.com);
- Cris Potthoff of Bartonville: pysanky (prayerfularts.com);
- Gabrielle Schadt of Le Claire, Iowa: paintings (gabrielleschadt.com);
- Monica Skrzypczak of Rockford: chaplets, rosaries and oil paintings (outpouringoftrust.com); and
- Taryn Watkins of Peoria: paintings (tarynawatkins.wixsite.com/portfolio).
Among the participating musicians are those from St. Pius X Parish: Steve Steely, director of music ministry; Shelley Walljasper, cantor; and Mary Ann Hansen, cantor, accompanied by Sharon Ade, who wrote a song, “A Prayer of St. Bonaventure.” Those who tune in will also hear from Annie Karto, a Catholic singer and songwriter.
The show is dedicated, in part, to the memory of Msgr. Richard Soseman, who was to give the keynote talk. He died Dec. 9, 2020.
“A GREAT GIFT”
Meant to be a festive celebration of beauty, truth and goodness, the Art of Faith Sacred Art Show and Sale almost didn’t happen this year because the pandemic has made it difficult to bring people together.
“Since it was my 10th anniversary I had to have something. I can’t not do it,” Rodts said. “It felt like the Lord was saying, ‘No! We need God’s love present, Me present, to us now more than ever.’ We need visual reminders that God is with us even through this pandemic.”
Bishop Tylka called art “a great gift of evangelization.”
“The works of artists, whether it be a painting, whether it be a drawing, whether it be a sculpture, whether it be music or poetry, however an artist uses their gifts and talents to present to the world the message of Jesus is a great gift of evangelization to the church,” he said. “It lifts our minds and hearts to dwell upon the mystery of God made visible, of the God who comes to save.”
He asked viewers to consider images that connect them to “the true vine.”
“May God bless all the artists. May God continue to inspire all the artists,” Bishop Tylka said. “And may God bless you as you join us for this celebration, to recognize that the Lord indeed continues to speak to us through the beauty of art.”