Celebrating Fine Art and Dedication: SJU Gallery Features “Jesuit Spirit in the Arts” 40th Anniversary Exhibit
by Elizabeth Krotulis ’17
PHILADELPHIA (October 17, 2016) — Saint Joseph’s University Gallery will showcase the artwork of a dozen Jesuit priests to celebrate the 40th anniversary of “Jesuit Spirit in the Arts,” from Monday, November 7, 2016 through Friday, February 10, 2017. The exhibition features paintings, drawings, photography, and mixed media pieces inspired by faith and spirituality.
In 1976, the first “Jesuit Spirit in the Arts” exhibit at Saint Joseph’s was curated by Dennis McNally, S.J., professor of art, to gather the artwork of Jesuits and others involved in fine arts at Jesuit colleges and universities across the world. A 10th anniversary celebration took place in 1986 which showcased art from Jesuit institutions nationwide.
This year, the 12 Jesuits contributing to the exhibit will display three pieces of original artwork. Mediums span from figurative watercolors to assemblages made from found objects by the featured artists: Arturo Araujo, S.J.; Sammy Chong, S.J.; Don Doll, S.J.; Michael Flecky, S.J.; Eugene Geinzer, S.J.; Oscar Magnan, S.J.; Dennis McNally, S.J.; Trung Pham, S.J.; Nicholas Rashford, S.J.; Brad Reynolds, S.J.; Michael Tunney, S.J.; and Josef Venker, S.J.
“The phrase attributed to the Jesuit order and its founder St. Ignatius of Loyola, Ad maiorem Dei gloriam — for the greater glory of God — serves as a backdrop for the ‘Jesuit Spirit in the Arts’ exhibit,” says SJU associate gallery director Jeanne Bracy. “Although the work itself is varied, there is an underlying theme of finding God in everything. These 12 Jesuit artists, through their teaching and their artwork, exemplify Jesuit spirit and principles.”
The 40th anniversary celebration will also mark Fr. McNally’s 40 years of service with Saint. Joseph’s as founder of the university’s art department and as the department chair for a total of 22 years. Fr. McNally will display his paintings, most of which have never before been seen by the public, in a special portion of the exhibit.
“Being asked to have an exhibit of my life’s work mounted at Saint Joseph’s is new to me and I am tremendously grateful for and honored by the opportunity,” says Fr. McNally. “I paint my heart out, sometimes finding food for my soul in the very things that come from my hands. I share my work with whomever God sends my way; sometimes someone else finds it really helpful, and I’m glad.”
Fr. McNally’s Renaissance-influenced work, created on canvases six-feet in one dimension and from two to 20-feet in the other, follows a religious theme that results from connecting with God through prayer. His art often depicts the wonder and mystery of God behind life’s suffering.
A pair of gallery talks will launch the event Thursday, November 10, at 5 p.m., in the Cardinal Foley Campus Center. Distinguished speaker John O’Malley, S.J., university professor of theology at Georgetown University, will present a lecture titled “The Jesuits and Art: How it Happened and So What?” to discuss Jesuit art throughout history. Fr. O’Malley, who specializes in studies of early modern Christianity, the Renaissance and the Society of Jesus has served as a visiting professor at numerous universities, including Harvard and Oxford. Fr. O’Malley’s talk will be followed by Fr. McNally’s presentation “A Jesuit Artist’s Perspective” on the connection between his artwork and vocation as a Jesuit.
A reception will follow from 6 – 8 p.m. in the University Gallery.