Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Tau Cross

Franciscan (Tau) Cross
 by Bro. Jason Moore, OFM Cap. 
Carved, stained, and painted oak wood with nails, approx. 11" x 13 x 2".
This past year, the Capuchin friars were asked to create crosses for auction at the Brown Robe Benefit http://www.brownrobe.com/. This dramatic and moving artwork--a rugged and raw beauty--caught my eye immediately.

The description of the cross in Bro. Jason's words follows:
"This cross is in the shape of the Tau, known by many as the Franciscan cross.
The cross is decorated with thorns representing the crown Jesus wore on the cross and the nails as the instruments to affix Him to the cross. The skull represents both the bones of Adam, used at the base of ancient crosses, and is a reminder of the Capuchin Saints who would preach or contemplate with a skull; reminding us of our own mortality. The cross is crafted from oak grown at San Lorenzo Novitiate, and carved with hand tools and a Dremel."
The cross viewed from below.

I contacted Bro. Jason for more information about his artwork and vocation, and he graciously
responded to my questions.

Regarding your artwork:
Have you received formal training or are you self taught?  
I had art classes from elementary through high school, and a sculpture class in college. Otherwise I am self-taught.

Is carving and sculpture your main outlet in art, or do you make two-dimensional work as well?
I think my best work is sculpture, but most of my work is in drawing. The Tau cross is my first experience with wood, and I was experimenting as I went.

Do you get much time to work on art in your present occupation?
As a Novice for the Capuchins, there is much quiet time for prayer and reflection. In that time, I find that art helps me to express myself in ways that words just can't. It is a prayer in itself.

By what kinds of art are you most influenced?
Visiting the Vatican was a powerful experience, seeing so many pieces of art devoted to the praise and worship of God. I was moved by the Pieta, and the drama of the Sistine Chapel, but  I'm also influenced by street art, where pieces are created in minutes. Finally, I draw some of the style in my art from stained glass windows.

Do you have a favorite artist or artists who most thrills and influences your own work?
That's a hard question. I think Dali and Michelangelo were the biggest influences, but recently I was able to work with Lynn Kirchner, a sculptor who did two commissions for a church in Evergreen, CO. At that time I was able to do some of the patina work on the first of the pieces, and my ears were the model for the second piece--a St. Francis.

Regarding your formation:
In what year of formation are you?
I am a Novice, so it is my second year. Next year I will take temporary vows.

What in particular drew you to the Capuchin Franciscans?
The Capuchins were brought to my attention by the life of St. Francis. Their work in and around Denver caused me to look closer. They are down-to-earth guys who love Jesus and act on that.

Which saint or saints are most influential in your life, and why?
St. Francis, since I am a Franciscan.  At 18, I took my first trip to Europe, which included a visit to Assisi. There I learned that Francis was a man who rejected that which the world said was important. He humbled himself to grow closer to Christ, letting go of wealth and position. St. Francis was able to bring so many to God even as he struggled with his own will vs. God's will.
Also, I was fourteen when Blessed Pope John Paul II visited Denver for World Youth Day, so he too is an influence. At that time, the experience of so many Catholics, from all over the world, coming together in one faith really moved me. I felt the Holy Spirit moving in a way I'd not experienced before. One of the four more World Youth Days in which I participated led me to my aforementioned experience in Assisi.

How are your faith and creative life linked most strongly?
Our creativity leads us to be more fully who we are, being created in the image of God.  God created the beauty of the world, and we take part in that by creating something new.  I express myself in a different dimension that words or formulas can't.  This draws me closer to God--even more so as I see that Jesus humbled himself to become our creation in the bread and wine of the Eucharist.

Bro. Jason's Franciscan Cross has brought my studio space art, creative spirit, and a valued reminder of my mortality.

Many thanks to Bro. Jason for his work and contribution to this blog!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

English Village, Smugglers, and Secret Passages

The Sawmill. Acrylic on cradled hardboard, 5" x 5".
(Continuing my exploration of grey.)

Years ago, in a junk store, I found a sheaf of small papers obviously cut from an old book. 
Among the papers was the inscription:
Sgt. Vernon J. _ _ _ _
Hdqs. 401st Bomb Group (H)
A.P.O. 557 c/o Postmaster
New York, N.Y.

Also among the papers were a few photographs of places in England, one marked Robin Hood's Bay;
an intriguing place that I will visit someday, especially after finding this link:

This little painting is my interpretation of the old photo. Best I could tell, the main building was once a sawmill. Hence my title.

Thanks for reading!

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