The Dolan Center for Science and Technology is usually known for just that: science and technology. But for the month of February, it’s becoming a little more “artsy.”
The Art Exhibit “Adsum” has taken over Dolan room E135. “Adsum” is a unique exhibit of contemporary paintings on Ignatian Spirituality, one of the pillars on which John Carroll was founded.
Sponsored by the John Carroll Office of Mission and Identity, the exhibit coincides with the campus’ Ignatian Heritage Week. The exhibit was created by Holly Schapker, a graduate of Xavier, JCU’s neighbor Jesuit university.
The mini gallery features eleven ‘oil on canvas’ and ‘oil and maps on canvas’ paintings, some as tall as 60 inches and as wide as 72 inches. These paintings allow an onlooker to walk through the life of St. Ignatius of Loyola.
The exhibit begins with a self-portrait drawn by Schapker. This is followed by paintings of two women with whom Ignatius had close relationships: “Our Lady of Our Way” and the “Unnamed Manresa Woman.” Across the room in the mini gallery hangs another painting of a female who played a role in Ignatius’ life, the “Black Madonna of Montserrat.” It is believed that Ignatius laid down his sword at the foot of this statue when he encountered it. Schapker creatively includes this fact in her exhibit, placing her own painting of Ignatius’ sword at the foot of this painting.
Following these is a large picture of Ignatius himself, with maps making up his garment. According to the painting’s description, these “contemporary maps embedded in Ignatius’ garment represent his close relationship with ‘Our Lady of Our Way’” as well as “the worldwide mission work of the Jesuits and the contemporary relevance of his story.”
Several other paintings represent significant stages in Ignatius’ life such as the relinquishment of his self-will.
Amidst these paintings sits a five foot statue of Ignatius in armor, meant to be a visual representation of Ignatius’ physical height. This also creates an element of irony for the viewer who knows of the large impact Ignatius had on the world. On the chest of this statue, a heart glows to symbolize Ignatius’ “ability to break through the constraints of tradition which no longer served him.” At its feet is coiled the serpent-like creature which assisted Ignatius.
Since Ignatius was very in touch with nature, it was fitting that four of the last six paintings portrayed this. First (and fittingly so) came the “Tree of Life” complete with the inscription “The choice is yours…”
Second: “Ignatius’ Epiphany Outside Manresa.” The painting’s description tabs this moment as one in which Ignatius “experienced a clarity that totally changed his understanding of everything.”
Next, a massive painting of the “Montserrat Landscape” catches the eye. Montserrat was said to be the place where Ignatius spent time pondering his life and contemplating his confessions and desires in hopes of a future with God. The illustration of this place was therefore said to represent “the vastness of the possibilities opening to [Ignatius] and the ongoing expansion of his vision.”
Finally, the work entitled “Eye Slits Landscape” is the last of the exhibit and meant to symbolize the fact that “Ignatius of Loyola’s Spiritual Exercises look to a transformation of consciousness and the freedom that comes with it, to move beyond the constraints of vision imposed by the limited atmosphere of society.”
Senior Dan Klufas said, “It’s cool that an exhibit like this is at John Carroll, but unfortunate that no one knows about it.”
This “collection of paintings is of particular interest in that it reflects the experience of a woman who has both visited the places where St. Ignatius lived and who has done the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius. It is a very contemporary expression of that spirituality” said Paul Murphy, the director of the University’s Institute of Catholic Studies.
“Ignatius emphasized the use of the imagination in prayer and as a result the arts have played a prominent role in Jesuit education since the sixteenth century. It is good to be able to include an exhibit such as this in our efforts to enhance John Carroll University’s mission and identity as Jesuit and Catholic,” Murphy said.
The exhibit is free and open to the public and will be available for viewing for the remainder of the month. The exhibit’s hours are as follows: Sundays from 1 – 6 p.m. and Monday through Friday 4 – 7 p.m.