Insight into the Parishioner Series ❡
The Parishioner Series focuses on my personal struggles concerning faith in God, the Catholic church, and my own mortality. Although the work is self-reflective, I project these struggles onto the members of the small religious community to which I belonged as a child and young adult. I have chosen this group because they represent a simpler time in my life – a time when it was unnecessary to question religion or think beyond the bounds of the community. I think back on those years with fondness and a certain jealousy.
To me, these individuals represent righteousness and unwavering devotion – a uniform belief under the same doctrine. I am jealous of their commitment to faith; it remains difficult for me to believe in that which science and man cannot prove with certainty. The questions I often consider are: Have these people truly found the path of God? Are they just acting as if they have? Are they simply going through a weekly routine because it is expected of them? Will God save them all? Will I have to stand before God and be held accountable for the life I have chosen?
Although my work depicts a church community, it is not my intent to be viewed as a religious artist, nor to debate each individual who determines that I am in need of spiritual guidance. The work represents a physical manifestation of my thoughts, and is intended to be a conversation starter for topics that are not often discussed openly in public.
About the imagery: Images of the parishioners were selected from Sandusky St. Mary’s 1974 parish directory. The directory is set up much like a high school yearbook, with rows of individuals and families posed in front of the camera (often haphazardly). Each person represented in my work is significant because they were an active parishioner the year I was born into this community.
About the process: Each portrait is initiated through the use of a computer. The imagery is scanned and layered using a photo-editing program – in some cases, allowing information from ten or more individuals to be incorporated into one painting. Once the composite image is created, the file is printed and drawn onto canvas. Using the drawing as a guide, the canvas is meticulously painted by hand. In some instances, Biblical passages (usually from the Book of Revelation) are varnished onto the completed portraits.