Built of Living Stones 153-154: An Artist’s Commission

Let’s wrap up the discussion on “The Artist Within the Christian Community.”

§ 153 § A commission for a church or for worship affords artists an opportunity to join their creative gifts to those in a long history of artists who have placed their talents at the service of God and who have enriched the Church’s treasury of sacred art and architecture. “All artists who, in view of their talents, desire to serve God’s glory in holy Church should ever bear in mind that they are engaged in a kind of sacred imitation of God the Creator, and are concerned with works destined for use in Catholic worship and for the edification, devotion, and religious instruction of the faithful.”(SC 127)

§ 154 § The Church needs art and artists to communicate Christ’s message, and artists need the Church to inspire their investigations of the material world, their own inner lives, and the fabric of the community. Before an artist is selected, the parish will want to carefully consider and evaluate the artist and his or her work with the assistance of those best qualified to advise the community. Once a community has chosen artists to assist them in worship, they should give the necessary direction and then trust those they have selected. Artists deserve the independence appropriate to their gifts.

Imitation of God: very grave substance here, isn’t it? BLS 154 gives basic good advice on planning a commission. An artist’s work should be carefully examined. The internet affords easy access, but a real-life visit to an artist’s works may give insight with the setting and the personal aspect that is just not communicated through an electronic image. I think it is appropriate to seek advice from communities that have utilized an artist’s talent. It helps to get a window on the process others have employed, and if the artist has worked well with previous commissions.

All texts from Built of Living Stones are copyright © 2000, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Inc. All rights reserved. Used with permission.


About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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