Diocese celebrates art and faith

YOUNGSTOWN — In conjunction with the Diocese of Youngstown’s 75th anniversary celebration being held through June 9, Lou Zona, executive director of the Butler Institute of American Art, discussed the religious connections to many famous artists’ works.

The program “Art and Faith” was attended by more than 50 people who gathered at the church next to the Butler Museum know as the Butler North.

Zona has written numerous essays on the visual arts and lectures on art and artists.

The Rev. Msgr. John Zuraw, Diocesan chancellor and chair of the 75th anniversary committee, stated, “We are extremely grateful to Dr. Zona for sharing the museum for this Diocesan event and presenting a lecture for us. Art appreciation is a long standing tradition that has the power to awaken in people of faith their experience of God and religious imagination.”

Zona said, “The Last Supper” by Leonardo DaVinci was “a very delicate painting” that was done during a period of religious change taking place.

“This painting has inspired many other artists … DaVinci included images of angels in many of his paintings. The idea excited him to paint on canvas when creating his work,” he said.

Zona said whenever he views “The Last Supper,” he said he often feels like he is looking at it for the first time.

Zona said while “The Last Supper” was about the last meal that Jesus had with his disciples before his crucifixion, he showed DaVinci’s one-point perspective style where all of the lines come back to one point in the center.

He showed other paintings such as “Madonna of the Rocks” that also included angels. The painting shows the Madonna and child Jesus with the infant John the Baptist and an angel in a rocky setting that gives the painting its name. The significant of the composition is the gaze and right hand of the angel.

Another, the “The Annunciation to the Blessed Virgin Mary,” is the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox celebration of the announcement by the Archangel Gabriel to the Blessed Virgin Mary that she would conceive and become the mother of Jesus, the son of God. Gabriel told Mary to name her son Yeshua, meaning “salvation.”

He said DaVinci included religious figures and images, including the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, the Virgin Mary, angels and saints. Zona said DaVinci incorporated faith into each painting.

Zona said Italian Renaissance painter Michelangelo studied many of the Greek sculptures and “had a way of making marble look like a man with a great sense of beauty. He was a master at what he did.”

Michangelo created the images for the Sistine Chapel in Vatican City. The fame of the Sistine Chapel lies mainly in the frescos that decorate the interior, most particularly the Sistine Chapel ceiling and “The Last Judgment” by Michelangelo.

Zona said while Michelangelo considered himself a sculptor, not a painter, when Pope Julius insisted he paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, he began work on his famous frescoed ceiling in 1508 and worked on it for four years.

He said Michelangelo created “The Last Judgment” covering the whole altar wall of the chapel. It is a depiction of the second coming of Christ and the final and eternal judgment by God of all humanity. There are more than 300 figures in the painting with nearly all of them the males and angels.

The Diocese began celebrating its 75-year anniversary in May 2018 and has been celebrating through different events and programs at different parishes and locations throughout its six counties.