Carlow exhibit to feature artist
Parish's St. Elizabeth Ann Seton work will be unveiled
While the former St. Luke Church building in Carnegie was being renovated to become the new home of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish, Father David Poecking, pastor, commissioned a number of artworks for the interior.
One of those pieces -- a painting of St. Elizabeth -- will be unveiled when Carlow University hosts an exhibit featuring its creator, artist Janet McKenzie, "Holiness and Feminine Spirit," on campus from Sept. 17-Oct. 19.
The formal opening and reception with McKenzie are set for Monday, Sept. 17, at 7 p.m. on the fifth floor of Carlow's Grace Library. All are welcome.
The exhibit will be open to the public from 1-4 p.m. on Sundays, Sept. 23, 30 and Oct. 7, and Saturday, Oct. 13.
"Janet McKenzie focuses her life's work primarily on the subject of women and views her work as a symbolic voice for women who are not able to speak for themselves," said Sister Sheila Carney, Carlow's special assistant to the president for Mercy Heritage. "Incorporating diversity, children and symbolic imagery into her work, Janet explores the sacred voice within her which seeks expression."
When the exhibit concludes, the 3-foot by 4-foot painting will be moved to St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish, where it will be hung in either Holy Family Hall or St. Luke Hall. Father Poecking will schedule a dedication for its unveiling. The painting was commissioned by parishioner Carol Riley, a member of the team advising Father Poecking.
"It's a challenging work, but I'm very happy with it," Father Poecking said. "It really brings out the pastoral value."
He said the St. Elizabeth painting reflects the influences of the stark, iconographic style of art in the Middle Ages and by the infusion of warmth and realism in Renaissance works.
"She has warm and realistic human figures," portrayed in an unusual combination of colors, Father Poecking said. "She has a great solemnity in her paintings. The compassion and gravity of the faces reflects medieval times."
The work, he said, "transcends earthly concerns."
The painting is just one of the works installed in the newly renovated building. Bishop David Zubik dedicated it last November following extensive renovation work to repair damage from flooding during Hurricane Ivan.
The new church features a bronze work of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton by local sculptor Alan Cottrill, which sits in the plaza at the church entrance, and the Connemara marble altar from the former church.
The pipe organ by Patrick J. Murphy & Associates has been installed, as have reliefs carved by Jeffrey and Anna Koh-Varilla, including a relief on the apse wall depicting St. Elizabeth comforting her dying husband.
Such artistic images "very definitely are pastoral and devotional," Father Poecking said.
"In a sense they are devotional because they invite people to lift up their hearts and minds to God. They are an invitation to move upward and outward to Christ.
"They are pastoral in the sense that they are a kind of outreach, in a way a reminder to people that Christianity is not about being satisfied in this world, but also about the fate of those who are suffering."
He pointed to the artwork showing the death of St. Elizabeth's husband, William. "It shows that death is an opportunity to grow in holiness and sharing."
McKenzie, who lives in Vermont, studied at the Fashion Institute of Technology and the Art Students League, both in New York City, and studied in Europe on scholarship.
In 1999, her painting, "Jesus of the People," won the National Catholic Reporter's competition for a new image of Jesus at the millennium. That painting will be included in the Carlow exhibit.
Her book, "Holiness and the Feminine Spirit -- the Art of Janet McKenzie," will be on sale throughout the show, and she will autograph it at the opening reception.
For information on the Carlow exhibit, call 412-578-6424.