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Evansville, Indiana
October 16, 1987     The Message
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October 16, 1987

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4 Faith Today Supplement, The Message, Catholic Diocese of Evansville, October 16, 1987 JL '  ", i , .... ' ' : ,: : , " Faith Todav By Monica Clark NC News Service A nton Fuetsch is at work in his studio in Berke- ley, Calif., carving a life- size statue of the ascend- ing Christ. The project for a local Catholic church is more than a business commission. It is the Austrian native's medium for communicating faith. "When people enter the church, I want them to immediately recall the story of Christ and how in the end the victory of inner and eter- nal peace can be attained," he said. "Christ is our example of how hardship shouldn't deter us." The 44-year-old Catholic artist is carrying on a three-generation woodcarving tradition. He aims for the "visual image of eternal truth." The eyes convey that best, he said, because they can express "inner sureness, quietness, a knowledge" that there is a continuation from this life to the next. Sculptures, like living figures, are three-dimensional, Fuetsch stressed. He learned to carve life's three- dimensional quality into his works from his uncle whose works stand in St. Stephen' s Cathedral in Vien- na, Austria. In his own sculptures, Fuetsch tries to find a way to reveal the interior spiritual qualities of a person through the physical exterior. DD71 The kind of environment people encounter when they enter a church is also the concern of artist Patricia Walsh, who in the past 10 years has helped six U.S. Catholic congregations with major interior church renovations. A fine arts professor at California College of Arts and Crafts in Oakland, Ms. Waish strives for "a feeling of rightness that is con- ducive to meditation, that makes people want to be in the room." Such "rightness" comes from at- tention to detail, to the interplay of colors, the lines of the altar and lectern, the design of the tabernacle door, the use of shapes to fill a large sanctuary space. She measures that sense of rightness intuitively, knowing it is somehow connected to her own spiritual and moral values. "I have to rely on my own openness and aliveness, my will- ingness to approach my work always with a fresh eye," Ms. Walsh said. She emphasized that when atten- tion is paid to all components of the environment in which the The artist's mediu For woodcarver Anton Fuetsch (pictured above), creating a life-size statue of the ascending Christ for a local church is more than just a business commission, reports Monico Clark. It is the Austrian native's medium for communicating faith. This week, Faith Today's writers explore the connections between faith and art, and talk with contemporary church artists about their work. Church art, they discover, isn't just art for art's sake! A supplement to Catholic newspapers published by NATIONAL CATHOLIC NEWS SERVICE 1312 Massochusetts Ave. N,W., Washington, D,C. 20005. with grant assistance from ) The Catlqohc Ohurch EXTENSION Soc,e 35 East Wadder , Chicago, lilies 60601 All contents copyright@ 1987 by NC News .Service.  church's worship occurs, a new respect for the Christian life can emerge among worshipers. Even if the space for worship is not 100 percent perfect in artistic terms, "the time and effort put into it supports the faith of the people and reinforces the gospel message," she said. E2E2 Father Ronald Schmit, one of Ms. Walsh's students, is acutely aware that art and the design of a wor- ship space have a power to com-. municate something to others. The environment can reinforce the themes of the liturgy and help to create a caring community, he believes. The 30-year-old priest is associate pastor of All Saints Parish in Hayward, Calif. He graduated from the seminary after earning a degree in interior architectural design. He told of roll- ing up an ornate carpet in a chapel sanctuary and main :usle during Lent to reveal a bare white floor that would better symbolize the penitential nature of the season. And one Easter Father Schmit placed brightly colored upholstered panels over the Stations of the Cross to focus the congregation's attention onto the message of the resurrection. Tempormy changes of the wor- ship environment such as these can help at special times to "shift the emphasis away from secondary symbols to the primary ones," hc believes. His criteria in making these tem- porary changes? Whether they help focus the people's attention on the primary meaning of worship -- gathering together, proclaiming the word and breaking the bread. For Father Schmit, his work on linoleum cuts of biblical scenes and his involvement with matters of in- terior design are somewhat like praying the rosary, in which the repetition of the Hail Marys frees the mind and heart for contem- plation. "When I'm really into it, 1 have a sense of complete connectedness to the natural world and to God -- that we are in full communica- tion," he said. "Art keeps me physically tuned and in the process I become contemplative, present to God." The priest is convinced that "in art and in liturgy, something greater than me takes over: the Ho- ly Spirit." (Ms. Clark is editor of. 7he Catholic Voice in Oakland. Calif.)