As I depart St. Isidore, my hope is that my Jesuit superiors will now allow me the time (and money) to pursue my own artwork. This is the direction in which the Holy Spirit seems to be pulling me at this time, and it is where I find the greatest consolation. You can see a few of my artworks in the Gathering Area right now.
The oil paintings I did quite a number of years ago are very Christocentric—Last Supper, Passion of Christ, etc. Two of the most powerful themes of Christian art, especially in the western world, are the Madonna & Child, and the Pieta. (The terms “Madonna” and “Pieta” are Italian because of the great Renaissance artists who popularized these motifs.) It fascinates me that in both of these images, the Blessed Mother is holding the naked and helpless body of her son; first as an infant, then after he has been taken down from the cross. This, of course, is the beginning and end of Jesus’ life; theologically, it is the Incarnation and the Redemption.
Now, almost 20 years after I did this painting, I am working in a radically different vein. My work now is primarily three dimensional and quite abstract; almost none of this current work is explicitly religious. In these works, I am combining two passions of mine; art and geometry. (I used to teach both subjects in high schools.) Geometric concepts include perfect solids, spirals, Mobius strips, and Hamiltonian circuits—whatever those are! Motifs include snowflakes and sunbursts, rainbows, stars and stripes, calligraphy, playing cards suits, even octopi! Many of these works will be soccer ball designs, ornaments, or hangings. These colorful shapes and patterns are expressions of joy, in contrast to the somber mood of many of my earlier paintings.
Unfortunately, very few of my current designs are finished products, and because this sort of work is very new to me, I do not even know yet how to make the finished products. But I am very excited about this new adventure. One of the pieces that I intend to do is a giant Christmas ornament to hang in our Gathering Area on the opposite side from where the Christmas tree is placed. I did the preliminary sketches and we bought the materials for this piece last December, but I did not have time to even begin the work. I hope to begin work on this soon as a Christmas present for you at the end of this year!
P.S: Here’s a trivia question that I would be shocked if you can answer. The first bulletin article I wrote that appeared in the Harvest News, as it was called then, was written long before I even knew St. Isidore Church existed. When was this, and what was it about? To find the answer, look at the display of my artwork and other personal memorabilia in the Gathering Space.
If you’d like to reach me, you can do so at:
Fr. Mark George SJ
4001 W McNichols
Detroit, MI 48221