Fine Arts Council seeks to use the power of art to move people closer to God
by Kara Hansen
KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Art can brighten your life, but can it help save your soul?
It might — if the new archdiocesan Catholic Fine Arts Council has anything to say about it.
The council, formally launched on May 28, seeks to utilize the power of art to move and inspire people to a deeper relationship with God. The organization’s mission includes supporting Christian art education, archiving and cataloging sacred art within the archdiocese, and increasing exhibit opportunities and dialogue opportunities for Christian artists.
The council draws its mission from the writings of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops on artists and sacred art, as well as the writings of Pope Benedict XVI.
“I see the Catholic Fine Arts Council focusing and cultivating the need to use gifts we have to glorify God and to pass on the faith,” said Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann. “The emphasis is to support and raise awareness of the Christian artist and increase access to quality contemporary religious art.”
The Catholic Fine Arts Council will seek grant funding in order to help individuals, artists, educators and patrons participate in its mission.
“Initially, the council will focus on the visual arts and eventually expand to support the performing arts,” said Archbishop Naumann. “I would like to see a fabric of art woven throughout our archdiocese — in schools, in parishes and in our institutions.”
To celebrate the formation of the new council, an oil painting by artist Jason Jenicke of Austin, Texas, will be displayed for the summer months at the church offices library at 12615 Parallel Pkwy., Kansas City, Kan.
The painting is one of a series of images of the sorrowful mysteries. It depicts “The Agony in the Garden.” Jenicke was artist-in-residence at St. James Academy in Lenexa for more than two years. His realistic style and spiritual subject matter have earned high praise from art critics and collectors.
The painting is on loan to the archdiocese from John Menghini, a member of the Church of the Ascension in Overland Park.
Menghini will serve as chairman of the new council. Richard Anderson, member of Holy Cross in Overland Park, will serve as vice chairman.
Other founders are: Michael Podrebarac, liturgy consultant for the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas; Msgr. Vincent Krische, pastor of St. Ann Parish, Prairie Village; Ken Mellard, a parishioner of St. Michael the Archangel in Leawood; Kathy Calligari, a parishioner at the Church of the Nativity in Leawood; and Lesle M. Knop, executive director of the Catholic Foundation of Northeast Kansas and the office of stew- ardship and development for the archdiocese.
“The new committee members and I are enthusiastic about the potential benefits that will likely come from the promotion of Catholic sacred arts in northeast Kansas,” Menghini said. “It is our privilege to assist Archbishop Naumann to carry out his vision of advancing Catholic spirituality and divine worship through the beauty of artistic expression. I challenge all artists, no matter their particular area of expression, to seek ways to enrich our faith and to help us give greater glory to God and his church.”
The Catholic Foundation of Northeast Kansas’ mission includes promoting the spiritual mission of the Catholic Church by encouraging stewardship.
“The Catholic Fine Arts Council is a reflection of the stewardship theology that embraces all gifts, including those of time and talent, given in gratitude as a disciple’s response to God’s blessings,” said Knop. “An artist’s legacy has a value that can’t be measured in dollars and cents. The goal is to foster an awareness of art production and performance as a form of stewardship and worship in praise of God, our creator. Among the goals is to help encourage Christian artists whose legacy could inspire future generations with their craftsmanship and spirituality.”
A Web site will be developed and opportunities for involvement by parish liturgy committees, art and environment committees, two- and three-dimensional artists, musicians and performers, architects, educators and patrons will be forthcoming in the weeks ahead, Knop said.
For more information about the Catholic Fine Arts Council, call (913) 647-0326.