Recently I had the opportunity to speak with a liturgical artist about some of the major issues that affect American visual artists in the liturgical arts field. The biggest problem it seems is the misconception of American architects is that they believe there is no appropriate source of quality American artists to complete their projects, and subsequently they send their requirements to art guilds in Spain and Italy.

The entire process of designing an appropriate liturgical space for Catholic worship needs to start the process with a local search for artists and artisans that can accomplish the building design and implementation on /with local talent. It does not make a lot of sense to use European “statue assembly” facilities outside of the United States. There are a significant number of exceptional Catholic artists here domestically that want and need the opportunity to expose their works.

I suppose my point is simply…why not establishing an American Catholic Artist portfolio that highlights our own American artists and their areas of expertise. Perhaps this directory or portfolio of artists and their specialties could be marketed to architectural firms that specialize in Church design and architecture as a “Who’s Who” of American artistic resources and investigative queries could be made between all parties to establish a working business relationship.

In the current situation of high tech communications that exist in the United States and in the world, it would not be implausible for artists to make sufficient use of modern technologies such as video conferencing, web-meetings, conference calls in addition to utilizing services such as FedEx and UPS to facilitate distribution of their drawings in progress. Most significantly a modern artist, especially one that deals with artists, designers, architects, clients and just about everyone else cannot be without the use and working knowledge of a computer and all of its digital accessories.

Frequently, I hear of artists that have no email access, no computer access and in some cases no telephone access. Such a situation makes me wonder about the real commitment that individual artist is really making towards the distribution and marketing abilities of his artistic works. Such communications tools such as a telephone and computer are necessary tools that enhance and promote an artist’s recognition in an ever smaller world of competition and an even smaller global community.

That is why the use of technological implements such as the World Wide Web, and the establishment of Sacred Arts Academies are crucial for the growth of this expertise in the United States. For example, in my mind, any business that does not develop and maintain a web site to advertise and advocate their company’s products and services, risks the loss of business and potential business. A visual artist…that does not take the opportunity to take advantage of developing a multimedia presence on the www is not only loosing an opportunity to expose their artistic talents, but also misses a marketing opportunity that potentially spreads information about their art and artistic talents through the entire “networked” world.

While I was in college and studying philosophy, the philosopher Leibnitz used to express the following, “Knowledge is power.” Well in the world of the 21st century that is very true, however as a modification to that axiom, I would suggest that, “Information sharing abilities are indeed the true global power.” While I cannot claim to have the philosophical expertise of Leibnitz, I know that the technological creativity of Bill Gates offers everyone, artists and individuals alike an opportunity to transform our entire planet through the effective dissemination of knowledge and information through our emerging technologies.

When it comes to the marketing of American liturgical artists as a serious entity of craftsmen and artisans that deserve commissions from American architects and patrons there is a substantial need for the entire community of Sacred Arts professionals to work together and quite frankly “PROCLAIM” our American artisans abilities, so that the requests for artistic and architectural projects do not leave our shores and wander into the artistic Old World of Europe.

A point that needs strong emphasis as well is the vast resources available in materials as well as artists in the United States. While it is often “preferred” to use Italian quarries for decorative and structural fabrications, there are quite a few American quarries that provide exceptional quality materials and craftsmanship that surpass the European counterparts. It makes even more sense, that when designing a local Sacred Space for worship that the resources and materials to construct the local Church and parish community should come from existing, local resources. Not only does the use of domestic resources provide an opportunity to incorporate the readily available materials, but it permits an economic development within the local community that will inspire additional projects and new developments in the artistic and architectural world. Perhaps liturgical artists and architects need to realize that the development of Sacred Art and Space is the quintessential example of a “grass-roots movement” in all of our Catholic parishes and communities.

Recently Benedict XVI announced a project that will propel Vatican City State into a concerned effort of environmental conservation of resources. Perhaps it is a significant time for all of the Church’s artisans, architects and indeed all believers to,”Go Green,” but starting with the development of local art academies that specialize in recognizing the unique talents that American artists and craftsmen offer to the field of Sacred Arts and Architecture. Implementation and utilization of domestic American artists and craftsmen will not only promote the need for an American Academy of the Sacred Arts, it will further develop a positive implementation of electronic technologies , stop the exploitation of unnecessary foreign resources, provide economic stimulation locally and accentuate the artistic materials and individual talents available for creative projects in the United States.

The final message is clear, use the artists and artisans available in a particular community, emphasize the importance of utilizing modern technologies when conceiving and communicating about projects, use domestic resources for materials and artists and finally PROCLAIM uniquely to the world, that American artists are quite capable of providing quality artistic representations for our Catholic Churches, without the need to look elsewhere for artistic materials and artisans.

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