Tuesday, September 04, 2018

Catholic Sculptor Offers Apprenticeships

I have just heard from Catholic sculptor Andrew Smith (whose work at Our Lady of Clear Creek Abbey in Oklahoma will be known to some readers of New Liturgical Movement) about an exciting development. He is getting ready to offer apprenticeships to willing students at his studio on the campus of St Gregory the Great Academy in Pennsylvania. He has made this decision after taking on an apprentice for the summer as an experiment.

Here is a detail of his Twelve Apostles at Clear Creek Abbey.

You can read about the experience of his summer apprentice Bethany Lee on her blog. She has written two great articles, The Summer of Stone and More About Scranton. Bethany is no beginner; she is soon to complete her training in the academic method of drawing and painting at the Florence Academy of Art US, which is located in Jersey City. The academic method as offered at the Florence Academy is an excellent way to learn the hard skills of drawing, painting, and sculpture, but the Catholic artist also needs an understanding of our traditions, and how to depart from strict adherence to naturalistic appearances so as to reveal the invisible truths of the Faith. Andrew Smith’s training offers an education in such skills and in the Catholic tradition of sculpture. He chose Bethany as someone who had the discipline and aptitude to learn, and very quickly reach the point of being able to contribute to Andrew’s commissioned projects.

Here are some more examples of Andrew’s work (and one of Andrew at work) which show how he has a personal style which, in my opinion, conforms to the standard of Catholic art as a balance of idealization and natural appearances. Andrew’s work reminds me of Late Antique early Christian sculpture in style.

This balance I refer to is articulated as follows by Pope Pius XII in his Encyclical Letter Mediator Dei; he uses the word “realism” for my word “naturalism”, and “symbolism” for my “idealism”:

 “Modern art should be given free scope in the due and reverent service of the Church and the sacred rites, provided that they preserve a correct balance between styles tending neither to extreme realism nor to excessive ‘symbolism,’ and that the needs of the Christian community are taken into consideration rather than the particular taste or talent of the individual artist.” (195) 

More recent articles:

For more articles, see the NLM archives: