Here is another piece by philosopher and member of the faculty of Pontifex University, Dr Carrie Gress. This first appeared on the university blog, blog.pontifex.university. Carrie’s personal website is carriegress.com.
She is interviewing the sculptor Thomas Marsh who lives in Virginia. I think that the quality of his work speaks for itself. One comment I would make is that he percieves the difference between sacred art and portraiture, judging from the face of Our Lady which is shown in the photographs presented here. In sacred art the object is to portray the general characteristics of the saint’s humanity. This is done through the particular, so we must see a unique person, but those unique characteristics are not emphasized as much as in portraiture – where the whole point is to emphasize what makes the subject different from everyone else. The result is a more idealized image, and this is what we see in the facial feature of Our Lady, which seem to draw on the Greek ideal for inspiration.
For sculptor and painter Thomas Marsh sacred art doesn’t need to fall into the trap of religious kitsch or modernist fads. From Santa Cruz to Washington, D.C., Marsh’s work can be seen in churches, monasteries, monuments and memorials.
Trained in the realist school of painting and sculpture, Marsh works to capture something unique about the human spirit that conjures up something deeper in the soul than novelty or saccharine sentimentality. Through his work of both the sacred and secular, Marsh is trying to capture a type of contemplation akin to prayer.
I spoke with Marsh about his realist training and its evangelizing potential.
Gress: You are a sculptor, specializing in sacred art. What led you to this vocation?
Marsh: My love of sculpting the figure goes back to childhood, at about age 8, when I borrowed some plastilina clay from my sister who was a college art student at the time. I made a number of character studies simply because it was fascinating.
I didn’t consciously focus on being a sculptor as my vocation until I was 18 and had just enrolled as an architecture student at Iowa State University. I took as many art classes as ISU had to offer taken mostly through the Architecture Department which, fortunately, had not abandoned classical principles of training in realism in their drawing classes.
I then transferred to a small, private, heavily endowed art school in Milwaukee, (Read More)