Art as the Holy Preaching
Since its founding over eight hundred years ago, the Order of Preachers has understood artistic expression as an important and central way to preach the Gospel. Throughout its history, the order has given an honored place to many Dominican artists as well as those commissioned under the auspices of Dominican patronage, influence, and inspiration including Duccio, Botticelli, Raphael, Fra Angelico, da Vinci, Michelangelo, Matisse, Le Corbusier, and Marie-Alain Couturier, to name a few. These artists, along with scores of other Dominicans in every century, have sought to express truth and beauty through the revelatory power of the image. Indeed, art as the Holy Preaching enjoys a privileged place in our tradition.
Project Inspiration, Mission and Goals
The inspiration for this project came from repeated requests for reproductions of the beautiful work of our brother, Fr. Cristóbal Torres, O.P. especially his Dominican Last Supper that hangs in the refectory in the St. Albert the Great Priory and Novitiate. In this acrylic painting, which can be viewed in the “Featured Art” section of this website, Fr. Cristóbal places Jesus at the center of the table, flanked on either side by our great patrons, Catherine of Alexander and Mary Magdalene, and by Dominican men and women from across the ages. The Torres Last Supper illustrates well our three goals for the artwork that will be showcased in the Dominican Arts and Artists project. These goals are:
- To employ a creative interpretation of the historical
- To engage the theological and spiritual imagination
- To combine visual interest and excitement with technical skill
In keeping with the Order’s long history of support for the arts and artists, the mission of the Dominican Arts and Artists project is twofold. First, our goal is to promote the work of contemporary Dominican artists, and second, to develop works of art with Dominican themes. We hope to offer the Dominican family new and beautiful images that will connect us more deeply to our religious heritage and lead us more fully into the ancient Dominican practice of “Contemplare et contemplata aliis tradere,”—that is, to contemplate the mystery of God’s love and to freely share the fruits of our contemplation with our brothers and sisters.
The Dominican Arts and Artists project, a ministry of the Southern Province, was approved by the Provincial Council in December 2012 and is coordinated by Dr. Jennie Block, O.P. Project funding has been made available from a grant from the Weiss Family Foundation. We offer, with much gratitude to our artists, a variety of high quality note cards, holy cards and posters, and we anticipate adding new artists and images and products on an ongoing basis.
Project Coordinator: Dr. Jennie Weiss Block, OP
Jennie is a lay Dominican and a member of the Southern Province. She holds a Doctorate of Ministry from Barry University in Miami, Florida. She is the author of Copious Hosting: A Theology of Access for People with Disabilities and the editor of In the Company of the Poor: Conversations with Paul Farmer and Gustavo Gutiérrez. (Fall 2013) She served as Chief Advisor to Dr. Paul Farmer, United Nations Deputy Special Envoy to Haiti under President Bill Clinton, and was the founding director of the Center for Dominican Studies at Barry University. Jennie helped to found ZanmiBeni, a center for abandoned children in Port-au-Prince, Haiti where she has just completed building the St. Rose of Lima Chapel. She is a widow, the mother of three fine children and two beautiful grandchildren.