The Art Monastery

First of all, sorry I’ve been delinquent for a couple of weeks. Life has been very busy, with major events happening at the first day job, and the second day job finishing up the season. (Strike for our last show is tomorrow!) Plus I’ve been without Internet access for much of the weekend hours, as I’ve been squiring for the Joust at the Virginia Renaissance Faire.

Second of all, as I announced on Twitter, I’ve decided to join the Roman Catholic Church. I plan to begin the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults this September when I arrive in Oxford, possibly at the Oxford Oratory Church of St Aloysius Gonzaga, although I haven’t yet decided between that church and the two parish churches of Headington (where the Kilns is located) – Corpus Christi (which contains Stations of the Cross carved by Faith Tolkien, J.R.R. Tolkien’s daughter-in-law) and St Anthony of Padua (where J.R.R. Tolkien worshipped). RCIA will hopefully result in my reception into the Church at the Easter Vigil next spring.

I am preparing a lengthy (probably multi-part) blog post on my reasons for converting from Presbyterianism to Catholicism. I have discussed my conversion with my parents and with my pastors, all of whom are supportive. I’ll be happy to answer any and all questions. I’ve also enjoyed reading the conversion announcement this past Sunday of an Anglo-Catholic priest, Fr. Jeffrey Steel, who has also decided to join the Church, along with his wife and six children. Check it out at his blog, De Cura Animarum. His reasons are similar to mine, including the desire for communion with a Church that can claim a direct line of authority back to Christ through St. Peter.

In the meantime, though, after having just attended the recent TCG Conference held here in Baltimore this past weekend, I’m afire with thoughts for the Baltimore Theatre Alliance, where I currently work, and my future planned theatre company. I did a Google search this evening for “artistic monastic communities,” which didn’t come up with much, but then I search for “artist monks,” and found the Art Monastery Project.

This group has turned a medieval Italian monastery into an intentional artistic community and arts incubator influenced by monastic tradition and ritual, including communal life, meals, and daily sung compline. They will be having their first arts festival this coming summer. I’ve joined their list and their online artists’ network. They’re doing work that’s pretty close to what I would like to do, and I hope to learn much from them, and hopefully visit them next summer. (Anyone up for a joint researching trip to Italy?)

Check them out and let me know what you think. Does this strike a chord with anybody else? Does anyone know of any other monastic arts communities, especially those that are explicitly Christian and/or part of a religious order?

5 thoughts on “The Art Monastery

  1. LOL.

    Of course you’re right that vanity existed back then – there’s nothing new under the sun – but the prevailing culture of art didn’t see art as all about the artist, but as all about the subject.

    (Your story provides an amusing illustration of my point!)

  2. I think vanity still existed back then. One of my favorite parts of the vatican was looking at the statues of each pope. The way the statue tradition works is that the pope can chose the artist but they don’t get to see the statue, the statue is unveiled after they die. (and if the pope dies before he can make arrangements to pick an artist he gets an empty slab) anyway one funny story was that one Pope refused to let the artist sign his work, he claimed that having the privilege of creating the sculpture was all the recognition he needed. So when the sculpture was unveiled to everyone’s suprise the artist had put his own face on the sculpture rather than the pope’s.

  3. I really would love to visit the Vatican. I’m always surprised and disappointed when modern/postmodern artists claim that art should be or always is about the artist. What about the centuries when artists wouldn’t sign their names to their work, preferring instead to give the glory to God?

    Thank you, and Mazel Tov to you, C., and Mama as well!

  4. I hope you will have the oppertunity to visit the vatican if you haven’t already. I went back in 2004 and it was one of the highlights of visiting Italy for me. The art there is nothing short of breathtaking. It is nothing short of incredible how much a profound impact religion has had on art in the western world.

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