The Abbey Art Collection:
Seeking Things Above

Beauty is one of the attributes of God, along with truth and goodness. Fr. Thomas Dubay wrote,
“Truth, beauty and goodness have their being together, by truth we are put in touch with reality which we find is good for us and beautiful to behold.”
(The Evidential Power of Beauty: Science and Theology Meet, Ignatius Press 1999)

Monks have historically been drawn to produce art and to surround themselves with art for spiritual sustenance and inspiration. Through the centuries, monks have preserved art in its many forms. Among these profound works are illuminated manuscripts produced in highly specialized scriptoria throughout the Middle Ages. Additionally, monks have been known for calligraphy, bookmaking, iconography, painting, sculpture, mosaics, and many other forms which adorn Benedictine monastic churches and monasteries. The churches themselves were many times designed and built by the monks. Over the last nearly 140 years, Mount Angel Abbey has received gifts of art, monks have created art, and the Abbey has purchased select works. This web section, titled “The Abbey Art Collection: Seeking Things Above,” provides a window into the art world of Mount Angel Abbey. At various times throughout the year, this window will focus on different media and pieces from the Collection. It is hoped that visitors to this Virtual Exhibit will enjoy seeing, learning about, and being inspired by the art.

Every experience of beauty points to infinity.
Hans Urs von Balthasar

Virtual Exhibit: Louisa Jenkins and Friends: Sacred Mosaic Arts

October 1, 2020 – December 31, 2020

Introduction

The historical beginnings of mosaic art are seemingly lost to us. The oldest known examples of this workmanship are in the Near East and date from about 1300 BC. The Roman Era saw popular mosaic arts employed extensively throughout the empire for state and private use. In the Christian era, the art flourished from the fourth to the fifteenth century in the Eastern and Western Church. Ironically, a decline ensued partly because of improved technology. As glass tiles became available in many colors, temptation to copy the ancient works also increased. When imitation of the masters became acceptable, the need for creativity in the medium diminished, though many masterpieces continued to be made, especially for the Church. In the second half of the 19th and first half of the 20th centuries, the Western Church experienced a revival in all the principal art forms, observed in such movements as the Benedictine School of Art at the Abbey of Beuron, Germany. This revival of the arts shows up in a number of Mount Angel Abbey’s treasured art works, notably those by Jean Lambert-Rucki, Isabel and Edith Piczek, and, of course, the mosaics of Louisa Jenkins, all with mid-century influences. It was here in the 1950’s that William Justema, artist-in-residence at Mount Angel Abbey at the time, suggested Louisa Jenkins of Big Sur for a commission to create a set of mosaic Stations of the Cross for the newly completed Saint Joseph Chapel. After the dedication of the Stations on July 19, 1953, the monks established Angelico Mosaics at the Abbey. The rest is history!