Part of the Truth & Beauty experience is an in-depth look at the incredible art painted across the palette of Rome.
In a city so populated with famous paintings and sculptures, it’s often easy to skip from one site to the next without learning about the history and context of each work. Luckily, our mentors, John and Ashley, know the city in and out. They’re fully equipped with facts and history for each staggering work that we approach in our exploration.
One of my favorite moments of art reflection was at a basilica called Sant’Agnes in Agone. The paintings in this church depict the story of a young martyr who gave her life for faith. When we entered the church, John took us through the meaning behind each segment of the paintings. The colours, frame, and surrounding text all contributed to telling an incredible story.
Without proper guidance, so much rich knowledge and wisdom may be missed. I’m truly glad to state that I’m delving into the depths of Rome, and not just skipping over the surface like a stone.
The BVP has impacted my life because I’ve had so many great experiences that I wouldn’t have been able to have outside of the program. We got to visit Fr. Joshua Elhi at the Congregation for the Propagation of Faith, which is the office responsible for missionary work and related activities. I enjoyed visiting the Congregation because it opened my eyes to the fact that the faith is not meant to be something that we just keep to ourselves, but rather it’s something that we need to share with the world and the Congregation helps to fill that need.
We also got to visit Domus Santa Marta where Pope Francis lives! We were blessed to get to visit with a Bishop of Uganda who was visiting Rome for the synod. Although we didn’t get to see Pope Francis, it was cool to know that the pope was close by.
I’m blessed to say that I’ve had Mass near the bones of St. Peter and gotten to experience the quietness and stillness of the basilica, that not many people get to have when they visit. It’s these surreal moments that make the BVP truly life changing.
One of the things that’s stood out the most to me during the Truth & Beauty Project has been the people we’ve met. Although there’ve been several brief meetings and chance encounters that are just a handshake and a hello, more often than not we sit and have lunch and in-depth conversations that cover a variety of interesting, formative topics.
One of my favorite conversations was with Father Francesco Giordano, Director of Human Life International’s Rome office, during a delicious homemade lunch. The topic of discussion was art, but ranged from how to define art to why there is no such thing as “non-religious” art to secular arguments to why beauty will not save the world… on its own. Beauty in and of itself, art for art’s sake, is useless; it needs to point to something higher. It needs to be intentional.
As a visual artist, another thing that’s been absolutely incredible for me so far has been, well, all of the art, especially in the churches. Back home in the United States, most of the churches I have been in are uninspiring at best, completely hideous at worst. Here, every time I step through the doors of a church I have to catch my breath--the beauty is literally breathtaking.
John’s commentary on the meaning behind everything (seriously, everything) adds a level of depth and understanding that I’d never be able to achieve on my own. Until hearing John’s commentaries, I never knew a single painting or sculpture could hold so much meaning.
I’ve had so many new insights and I feel that I’m developing at an exponential rate as a multimedia artist, thanks to this influx of knowledge and understanding. The project is giving me the tools I need to contribute to a culture change brought about by the spread of truth and goodness through beauty.
Since joining the Truth & Beauty Project, I’ve noticed that, along with enhancing my professional skills and aptitude, my perspective on the significance that integrity and beauty plays in art has significantly changed.
In my own profession of filmmaking, integrating the ideas of truth, suffering, and redemption can seem like a challenge, especially since overemphasizing one message can come across as excessively overt, or preachy. There’s a balance, however, when integrating these into stories. Films and movies have time and time again acted as parables of human brokenness, and how, depending on the choices that the heroes make, their paths can either lead to goodness or tragedy. This truth is not bound to one set of people; it transcends all cultural and religious differences.
The artists of Rome knew how to integrate these perfectly. Learning about their methods of artistry and how they were able to effectively and subtly tell the story of humanity’s relationship with Truth and Beauty, is astounding. Without the guidance of this program, and the knowledge that has been handed down to me from those who have gone before me, I would not have been able to truly recognize the responsibility that comes with creating art, and how the story I tell with each piece will impact those living in our time, and in years to come.
My time at the Truth & Beauty Project thus far has truly made an impact on who I am forming into. The experiences that have really stood out to me is all the times we have gone out in the streets or buildings of Rome there’s always something beautiful and impactful said about a sculpture, painting or some piece of art.
For example, the other day John took all of us into this beautiful church and in each wall was an incredible depiction of a saint’s martyrdom. I’d say those have impacted me the most during my time here because they truly set my heart on fire for the Lord, and the way John and Ashley explain the significance behind what we are seeing truly touches my heart and sets my soul on fire. It truly makes me see that if each one of these saints can give their life fully and completely to Christ so can we.
This is also seen through each piece of art work or even just the explanations John and Ashley give. These experiences are truly something you can’t find anywhere else in the world. That’s why this journey, and this Project specifically, is so different than any other.