“Sacred Art”

Contemplative Images for Holy Week

View a video of these Stations of the Cross, accompanied by sacred music

 The reason for the use of Sacred Art in the Church is to make visible what is invisible, to bring us to a more heightened state of awareness and connection with God and His Saints that we might share more fully in His Glory and Love for us, that we might go forth and DO HIS WILL.

Sacred Places of Jesus’ Life, Death and Resurrection have always been venerated – early pilgrims retraced the Way of the Cross. So it was that the pilgrims brought back from The Holy Land the idea of recreating those sacred places and events to share with the faithful of their home churches.

It is said that Saint Francis of Assisi began the practice of the Stations of the Cross. It then spread throughout Italy and Europe. It was his practice to reproduce in a realistic way the events of our Lord’s life and deeds (an example, is his reported installation of the stable and manger with live animals and people in commemoration of the birth of Jesus).

In a similar way I conceived these Stations of the Cross to bring immediacy to the Passion of our Lord.

Each one measures 4-ft x 8-ft. This is because of the cavernous size and interior simplicity of the nave of the church, Santa Rosa de Lima, in the town of Guaynabo, Puerto Rico.  Intimacy was achieved by the use of local people as models and customs so that the faithful might better identify with the trials that Our Lord and Savior suffered and died for because of His Love for us.

 

Jesus is condemned to death. ViaCrucis Station 1 painting by AVonnHartung

Here we see Jesus, centered, surrounded by many but COMPLETELY alone, only those admitted from the status quo on both sides (although we see Flavia, wife of Pilate and perhaps Nicodemus who represent a small group of inside sympathizers).

In the midst of a crowded room He is a lonely figure. All signs point to Him, the columns, the center aisle and all who gesture, single Him out in accusation. He is The One! The cause of all their troubles, indignation and hatred! He must DIE!

 

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“The Life and Prophecy of St. John the Baptist”

“There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light…. He said, I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, as said the prophet Isaiah.” (John 1:6-8, 23)
 

Today as the Catholic Church commemorates the Feast Day of the Martyrdom of St. John the Baptist, I present this mosaic mural which depicts his life and prophecy in the sanctuary of Parroquia San Juan Bautista in the central mountain town of Orocovis, Puerto Rico.

"The Life and Prophecy of St. John the Baptist" mosic mural by AVonnHartung in Orocovis, Puerto Rico
“The Life and Prophecy of St. John the Baptist” mosaic mural byAVonnHartung in Orocovis, Puerto Rico

Conceived in three arches which represent the Holy Trinity, the story of St. John the Baptist is expressed across time in the sanctuary of Christ’s church and includes the priest and congregation today in the fulfillment of sacred liturgy. When viewed from the rear of the Church during Mass, the servers and congregation are seen as completing the work of art.

Traducción español más abajo

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El Buen Pastor / The Good Shepherd

On Sunday we celebrated “The Good Shepherd”

 “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them. They follow me and I give them eternal life… (Jn 10:27)

 

El Buen Pastor/Good Shepherd painting by A.VonnHartung
El Buen Pastor / Good Shepherd painting by A.VonnHartung

When Padre Jaime Vázquez commissioned this painting, as part of my research I visited Ochoa Agrícola in Caguas, Puerto Rico. They have scores of sheep, mostly lambs and yearlings.

I worked among them getting close-up sketches and the feel of them.

It is such an important part of bringing what we paint to life, to know as much as possible the essence of what it is we are making visible, which in reality is merely a thin film of paint on a two-dimensional canvas.

 

Closeup detail of painting “El Buen Pastor” by AVonnHartung, commissioned by Padre Jaime Vázquez Rojas in 2003 for “Parroquia El Buen Pastor” in Guaynabo (Apolo), Puerto Rico

 

 

AVonnHartung with his painting ElBuenPastor