Lindsey Weishar: The talents of Catholic creators, and a call to steward the arts

My Vocation is Love / Lindsey Weishar

In eighth grade I was a member of the yearbook club at St. Matthew School in Champaign. Though we utilized many pictures from the 2004-2005 school year, I particularly remember a photograph taken on an afternoon in late November 2004.

Bishop Jenky had come to celebrate confirmation at our parish, and took time to speak to the whole eighth grade before confirming us. I don’t remember what he told us, but I do remember the picture that he allowed one of our teachers to take — a shot of him pointing his crosier at us in a playful gesture.

Though a delightful, humorous picture that speaks to the kind engagement of our bishop, the recording of this moment also reminds me of something more — the call to steward the arts. We can do this in so many ways. Our call may be as simple as posing for a photo. It may involve seeking out the creatives in our parish family or diocese. It may prompt us to purchase or renew our subscription to The Catholic Post.

NEEDED: THE GENEROSITY OF PATRONS

Late last year I heard a talk by publisher and writer Joseph Pearce called “The Evangelizing Power of Beauty: Converting the Culture.” One of the comments Pearce made was that when it comes to the Catholic arts, there are many creators out there. What these writers, crafters, wood-workers, potters, painters, photographers, graphic designers, musicians, and podcasters sometimes lack is patronage.

Are you a Catholic creative? If so, what is your creative medium? How do you hope your art will serve others/the church? Send your answers to cathpost@cdop.org for consideration in a future story or column, or write Catholic Creative, c/o The Catholic Post, PO Box 1722, Peoria, IL  61656.

When we look at the great artists of ages past, many of them were able to make a living because of the generosity of patrons. And though we live in an age of Patreon (which allows people to contribute online to various creators’ projects in exchange for small perks, like extra content), we may lack knowledge of the rich artistry within our own parishes and diocese.

Over the years, I’ve been able to witness to and receive the talents of Catholic creators in this diocese. The photograph of me that accompanies this column, for instance, was taken by former Totus Tuus teammate, Karley Bates, who runs Karley Bates Photography. (Check out her work (check out her work on Facebook and Instagram).  I’ve always loved how she pairs the photographs she shares with song lyrics.

Another former Totus Tuus teammate, Sam Mangieri, created Fiat Films and has helped a number of clients remember a special day, capture the beauty of their company, or share their mission.

When we work with individuals like Karley, Sam, and the hundreds of others in our diocese who are serving the community through their creative work, we are stewarding the arts.

THE POWER TO ILLUMINATE

Especially today, upholding the true, the good, and the beautiful is vital. And creatives have a special role to play in bringing these transcendentals into our lives. As Pope St. John Paul II says in his 1999 “Letter to Artists,” “Art has a unique capacity to take one or other facet of the message and translate it into colours, shapes and sounds which nourish the intuition of those who look or listen. It does so without emptying the message itself of its transcendent value and its aura of mystery.”

Our faith naturally tends toward the artistic. Knowing we are creatures who thrive on interaction with the tangible, not only does Christ come to us as bread, not only may incense and bells call our senses to consider the mysteries before us during Mass, but our churches themselves contain items created by artisans: stained glass windows, Stations of the Cross, the Nativity set and poinsettias at Christmas, the vestments of the priest, and the architecture of the church itself (my mind goes to St. Mary’s Cathedral and its ceiling adorned with stars). These parts of our churches nourish our interaction with Christ and call us to consider the eternal.

So, too, does art outside of our church buildings. A well-told story in The Catholic Post allows me to better appreciate some aspect of my faith or the activities happening in the diocese. Attending the concert of a Catholic musician may help us lift our hearts to Christ and inspire our prayer.

Art, and in a special way, Catholic art, has the power to illuminate, to provide witness, to reveal to the world “the reason for our hope” (see 1 Peter 3:15) — Christ. And in this weary world, the cultivation of hope is well worth supporting. If you feel so called, ask God how you can support Catholic creatives this year. And if you’re a Catholic creative, write to The Catholic Post. See the accompanying box.

Lindsey Weishar

LINDSEY WEISHAR is is a poet, freelance writer, and native of Champaign who has a master of fine arts in creative writing from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. She is executive assistant to the president at Donnelly College in Kansas City, Kansas. Write to her at lweisharwriting@gmail.com.

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