Faith and the Visual Arts

The September 18, 2022 Interfaith Concert "Faith into Action" included a display of visual art. Artists from many faith groups displayed work that connects  to their beliefs or cultural experience. The artists mingled with concert-goers and displayed their work on Washington Avenue immediately after the concert.

William Frank

"Works of Mercy" Ink on paper

Designed by artist William Frank and created by Emil Frei, Inc., of St. Louis, Missouri

(Catholic)

"Works of Mercy" is one design in a series of 19 windows created for St. Ignatius Martyr in Austin, Texas, to express the community's Catholic faith, charism and ministries.

The design depicts the seven corporal works of mercy in Catholic belief, a set of compassionate acts that respond to the bodily needs of our neighbors.

Artist's Statement

In my work as an artist I seek to draw out The Light.  I believe, as one ancient prophet stated that, "All things denote there is a God."  I find immense peace and comfort when I am surrounded by His creations.  "Mercy Never Ceasing" is meant to remind all who see it that The Lord's arms of mercy are extended to all people, and to come unto Him, The Fountain of Living Waters.

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Artist Bio

William Frank is a multidisciplinary artist and liturgical designer. Recent commissions include Via Dolorosa, a site- specific installation for SSM Health Saint Louis University Hospital in Saint Louis, MO. The project earned a 2020 IFRAA Religious Art: Visual Arts Honor Award. As a designer with Emil Frei, he has created over thirty major stained-glass and mosaic commissions of which his "Christ Hymn" window for Cistercian Preparatory School in Irving, TX received a 2015 IFRAA Religious Art: Visual Art Award. In addition to these liturgical and public commissions, William works with his children on their collaborative project, Drawn Small.

Vishnu Prabha

"Ramayana"

(Hindu)

 "Ramayana" is the most celebrated epic in a single painting. "Ramayana" is a tale of good triumphing over the evil.

 

Artist's Statement

Here I tried to narrate the heroic and adventurous tale of Lord Sri Rama’s rescue of his beloved wife Sita. This was inspired by the legendary Indian artist Bapu.

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Artist Bio 

I am a self taught traditional and digital artist. I believe in my passion, practice and patience. I am from a small town in southern part of India and am now based in the US. I draw inspiration from spirituality, mythology, traditional art forms, folklore, nature, nostalgia, simple joys, emotions, and anything that’s inspiring. I put my heart and soul in each and every piece of art that I create and enjoy the divinity in the painting process. I work hard to transfer that to my viewers. My aim is to bring a smile in anyone who is looking at my art. 

 

Tslila Schwartz

"Tree of Honor"

(Jewish)

The design is in a shape of a seven branched Menorah pomegranate tree. Each side represent honor oneself, your parents and nature, in Hebrew and English. The middle branch says that the honor of God fills the land.The term Kavod in the crown, can be translated as "respect", "dignity" or "honor."

 

Artist's Statement

Who is honorable? One who honors others. Therefore, the truly dignified person is the one who treats all people with dignity, who appreciates all people. This behavior is the true sign that he is dignified himself.

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Artist Bio

Tsila Schwartz is a native of Jerusalem who makes her home in St. Louis. She is a Jewish calligrapher and folk artist who specializes in traditional Jewish ceremonial texts. These include ketubahs ( Jewish wedding contracts), illustrated certificates, amulets, tallitot ( prayer shawls) and Torah covers.  She illustrated the book Rooms of the Soul by Howard Schwartz and her calligraphy appears in his books Elijah's Violin and Leaves from the Garden of Eden. She has also designed birth certificates and many certificates of appreciation for the synagogues of St. Louis.

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Naba Yasir

"Salam"

(Muslim)

"Salam" ("Peace") is a depiction of the life-long pursuit of a Muslim. The Quranic verse that narrates  the moment when God welcomes His creation to heaven with the word “Salam” is written in Kufic calligraphy.

 

Artist's Statement

The essence of Islam is in leading this life in peace and entering the next life with the same phrase. The hope and wait for the day of ultimate peace is depicted in this painting. 

Artist Bio

Naba Yasir is a Graphic Design Student at Webster University. She is the co-President of the Muslim Student Association and Co-Founder and President of the Muslim Student League. 

Luisa Otero Prada

"Humble Beauty"

Media: Acrylic on Canvas, 48" x 60"

(Baha'i)

"Humble Beauty" is a portrait of a Canna Lily flower, which in tropical climates is very common yet almost non-appreciated despite the starring role it takes in flower beds and gardens abroad.

Artist's Statement

This acrylic painting is part of a series I named "Naturalized." I have always been moved when I see a flower or a plant from the region where I grew up somewhere else, and I started to paint them. The natural world is a perfect part of creation; plants migrate and find themselves in other climates, defiant of non-ideal conditions. 

Human beings should be more aware of this, learn from it and accept it. 

Based on the definition of the word "naturalized": "Established plant that lives in regions where it is not indigenous."  The majority of the world population is naturalized, and that made me reflect on Baháʼu'lláh's  quote:  "Earth is but one country, and mankind its citizens."

Artist Bio

Luisa Otero Prada is an American artist based in St Louis, Missouri. Born in Colombia, South America, she has been an artist since her childhood.  Luisa attended La Salle University, in Colombia,  where she majored in Architecture. She moved to the United States in 2001.

Luisa has shown her art in The Third Floor Gallery, the Regional Arts Commission, St. Louis Artist's Guild, Old Orchard Gallery, St. Louis Community College, Chesterfield City Hall, Old North Community Art Gallery, Manchester Arts, the Northern Arts Council, and the 14th Street Gallery. She also had the honor of showing her art at the Missouri History Museum during a Hispanic Day Celebration.

S. Pakhar Singh

"Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji"

(Sikh)

 

This is a portrait of Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji (1666-1708), the Tenth Guru, the spiritual teacher and leader of the Sikhs, as well as a warrior, poet, and philosopher. Guru Gobind Singh Ji formally established the Khalsa in 1699, the spiritual community of the Sikh faith, at a time when Sikhs were facing immense persecution from the Mughal Empire. He is depicted heroically, wielding a sword and seemingly riding his horse onto the battlefield, emblematic of the role of Sant-Sipahi, the saint-soldier, the Sikh ideal of chivalry.

 

Artist's Statement

The martial spirit and the Sikh uniform, most famously the turban and unshorn hair, were gifted to the Khalsa by Guru Gobind Singh Ji, and meant to be adopted by all Sikhs as symbols of strength and resilience while fighting injustice. 

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Artist Bio

S. Pakhar Singh was born in Punjab, India. He started painting and drawing when he began taking art classes in the ninth grade. He pursued his passion after school and followed local painters in his village. He did not get any formal education in painting but has perfected his art through practice and developed a particular interest in painting portraits of the Sikh Gurus. He moved to the St. Louis area 15 years ago to be close to his family, who reside in St. Charles, MO. 

Cbabi Bayoc

"Fear"

(Baptist)

"Fear" was created at the corner of Canfield and West Florissant after the Ferguson uprising.

Artist Bio

Cbabi (pronounced Kuh-bob-bi) Bayoc is an internationally-known visual artist and illustrator residing in St. Louis, Missouri. His subjects include family, children, music and a bunch of other cool stuff designed with line, bold color and phunk!

Bayoc, whose birth name is Clifford Miskell, Jr., adopted his name CBABI (Creative-Black-Artist-Battling- Ignorance) during his time at Grambling State University (‘92-‘95). In 1997, a legal name change took place at the time of his marriage. Later, Cbabi would change his last name to BAYOC (Blessed-African-Youth-Of-Creativity) as something that could be shared with his future children

Today, Cbabi spends his time working on a variety of projects, including portraits, community murals, school murals, children’s book illustrations and is always up for a new challenge. He likes traveling to schools and talking with students about their own power in determining their destiny, using his own life experiences as lessons.

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Anonymous

"Buddha Under the Bodhi Tree"

(Buddhist)

This extraordinary place—Bodh Gaya—is understood to be the site of the enlightenment, or “great awakening" of Siddhartha Gautama, the Buddha. It was here that Siddhartha Gautama sat in meditation under the Bodhi tree, having renounced his princely life to wander and practice asceticism. Here, he defeated temptation in the form of the demon Mara, and set a great world religion—Buddhism—into motion.

Debbie Cutler

"Mercy Never Ceasing"

(Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints)

"Mercy Never Ceasing" is meant to remind all who see it that The Lord's arms of mercy are extended to all people, and to come unto Him, The Fountain of Living Waters.

Artist's Statement

In my work as an artist I seek to draw out The Light.  I believe, as one ancient prophet stated that, "All things denote there is a God."  I find immense peace and comfort when I am surrounded by His creations.  "

Artist Bio

Debbie Jensen (Cutler): "I am a self-taught artist who loves God, my children, music, life, and the arts. My focus has been on acrylic landscapes for some time now; I always seek to draw out The Light in my work. I hope you enjoy!"

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 Kailyn Hill 

“ancestors is da guiding light for my spirit in dis realm”

(Interfaith Youth Chorus)

The figure references gle masks used by the Dan people of Liberia, for protection and a channel for communication with the spirit realm. This reference illustrates the faith I place in my ancestors to guide and protect me.

Artist's Statement

"ancestors is da guiding light for my spirit in dis realm,'' pays homage to the ancestral spirits I believe live through me

 

Artist Bio

Kailyn E. Hill is a multidisciplinary artist from St. Louis. They are currently attending the University of Missouri. Their work explores how experiences at the site of the body inform one's sense of self to consider how the fashioning of personal identity changes with time and context. Hill is interested in using art to engage with and empower their community by igniting the power of imagination.

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Arts & Faith St. Louis and the Saint Louis Art Museum (SLAM) Partnership

Our Interfaith Tours at the Saint Louis Art Museum will resume in Fall 2022. Check back for information on how to participate.

In 2017, Arts & Faith St. Louis began a focus on Faith and the Visual Arts. A partnership with the Saint Louis Art Museum was initiated to create programming using the Museum’s collection as a guide to interfaith understanding. Programs include:

 

  • A pair of gallery talks titled "Images of Compassion" presented in early April 2019 by Father Terrence Dempsey, S.J., then the Executive Director of MOCRA. These free, hour-long informal discussions offer insights into the Museum’s permanent collection and featured exhibitions. Talks take place in the galleries and are led by curators, museum educators, professors, artists, and other experts.

  • Interfaith Tours, initiated in 2017, continued in 2018-19 for drop-in visitors and scheduled groups. These tours demonstrate common elements of global faith traditions in art produced throughout the ages. Interfaith Partnership of Greater St. Louis has played an invaluable role in developing these tours and working with the docents. The A&F/SLAM collaboration experienced another success in October 2019 when SLAM docents and staff  presented the Interfaith Tour program at the National Docent Symposium in Washington, D.C. with the hope that this approach can be a model for other communities to create partnerships with community organizations. A similar presentation was offered at the Docent Council of Metropolitan St. Louis Symposium last March for a wide range of St. Louis community museums and organizations.

  • Due to the success of these tours, current plans include expanding the Interfaith Tours.