SHU Chapel Mosaic Artists Represent a Human Mosaic Masterpiece of the Church
Those privileged to watch the daily progress of the mosaic mural installation in Sacred Heart University’s new Chapel over the last ten days are seeing something more than the creation of sacred art; they are witnessing before their very eyes the innermost workings of the Church itself as embodied in the mosaics and in the artists who are creating them.
When world-renowned artist Fr. Marko Rupnik and his team of 15 artists complete their work this week on the murals for the main sanctuary, Eucharistic Hall, and the smaller daily Chapel, the finished product will comprise hundreds of colors and hundreds of thousands of stones and tiles, called tesserae. Those many different colors and tesserae together create one finished work of art, and they represent the many different individuals who together form the Church.
“This kind of art, mosaic, is very related to the Church because, as you know with mosaic, there are a lot of pieces that, at the end, make their own scene. The many different stones are a symbol of the people. There are a lot of people that make the one Church,” said Stella Secciaroli, of Italy, one of Fr. Rupnik’s artists.
Just as the differences in the textures and colors of the tesserae give depth and life to the mosaics, so is it the differences in people that enrich the Church and make it complete, she said.
Everyone has his own life, his own characteristics, but altogether people’s differences become one work of art, differences between people become one masterpiece, Secciaroli said.
“That’s why the mosaic is the best symbol of the Church,” said Radu Rosu, of Romania, another of Fr. Rupnik’s team.
Just as the Church is a living mosaic, so too is Fr. Rupnik and his team. Despite representing eight different countries and five different branches of Christianity, they consider themselves one family and they live accordingly. They begin the day together with Mass and a morning meal before working together on the chapel murals. They break together for lunch and they dine together in late evening after a long day of work.
“We prayer together and work together and we work very hard for this communion. I think it’s very, very different to find, in all the world, this kind of communion,” Rosu said.
Like the colorful tesserae they affix to the chapel walls, the artists bring their own unique textures and colors to their human mosaic, each of them contributing to the beautiful whole. Gabriel Casale, of Italy, said he has learned that people are the same everywhere, and they share the same problems and interests.
“We come from different countries and different cultures. You have to respect other people, you have to respect differences,” said Dejan Milosavljevic, of Serbia, speaking specifically about the group of artists but also about the world at large.
“That’s the philosophy, the spirit, the thought of Fr. Marko. Sometimes it is very hard because we are all so different but at the same time it is also nice. It’s a rich experience,” said Joze Avsec, of Slovenia
The friendships they have developed are a gift of the art they do together, and the kind of art that they create is influenced by the relationship that they have, said Lea Lampe Zivkovich, of Slovenia. “It’s not only the individual side of art, but it is like a communion of different people, different cultures, different identities. It’s a kind of mosaic and every story, every background of each of the workers, the artists, leaves some kind of a print on the work itself,” she said.