Novak (novak) wrote,

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Personal/Theological Notebook: A Gift of Art For Grace

Oof. A late night after celebrating Owen's 4th birthday with a cookout and party over at Dan and Amy's with the Harrises and with Dan's Mom in town. I came back and spent the last three hours or so hunched over the print of John Duncan's St. Bride that I'm giving to Grace on Sunday as a present for her First Communion. I was etching an inscription into the back of the wood framing the canvas is wrapped around, and it took far longer than I expected. It's almost a little weird to have done that, though, as I've been planning to give this to Grace for some years, now, and have been toying with what to write all that time.

I met this afternoon with Mike, a student-soldier in the Army ROTC program here at Marquette, to go over material he had missed in class when he was out sick for a few days. And so we talked at length about Luther and the Reformation, and then backtracked to talk about the second part of our class study of Masaccio's Holy Trinity, which he had also missed. He spoke rather enthusiastically about our class dive into Art History on this point, and about the way art affects us, whether consciously or not, and the memory of that is sticking with me, as that's part of the logic of giving Grace a too-adult gift on this occasion. I'm her godfather as well as her uncle, and a theologian on top of that, and one who is also quite aware of the way we grow up with art, and how it can affect us.

So I remember the huge painting in a Modern style that dominated the back of my childhood Church, and the image of God it conveyed to me. I remember the four seasonal prints hanging in our living room as a child, and the way it showed attentiveness to one scene and what it revealed at different times of the year. I remember the fruit and bread still life hanging by our dining table, and the awareness of the simplicity and momentousness of the mere presence of food. For Grace, I hope that this dive into the beauty of Duncan's painting of an Irish folk tale with be a beauty that will be with her all her life: that this will be a present that she will come to value more over the years, that it will mean much more to her at eighty than it probably can at eight, that the beauty of the love of God in action can be expressed to her through this work, and that even when I am dead and gone, that it will still speak to her of the love that I wish I could be there to give her every day of her life. That too is within the power of art.
Tags: art, beauty, class-intro to theology, family, grace, masaccio, oregon illinois, personal, students, theological notebook

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