The Catholic Artist Connection helps each artists who create sacred artwork and people whose artwork is not overtly religious.
Catholic actor and theater producer Cole Matson got here to New York Metropolis in 2015 on a “mission to serve artists.” For one yr, he talked with as many Catholic artists as doable, looking for to achieve perception into their wants.
He then joined forces with the director and playwright Emily C.A. Snyder, they usually determined to provide a e-newsletter to tell Catholic artists in regards to the initiatives of their friends, together with telling them about alternatives and occasions. “Plenty of artists have been doing good work, however didn’t find out about one another and felt remoted from a wider neighborhood of Catholic artists,” Matson says.
The primary difficulty, which appeared in Might 2016, marked the beginning of the Catholic Artist Connection. Primarily based in New York Metropolis, the CAC at present has a complete of 650 members. About 25% are from the NYC area, however greater than half the members come from different areas of the U.S., and there’s additionally a large quantity (about 15%) of worldwide members.
The “Artist” in Catholic Artist Connection covers the entire spectrum of literary, visible, and auditory creation: stained-glass window makers, sculptors of holy icons, church organists, you identify it. “We purposely have raised an enormous tent, with the intent to be a house for artists of each self-discipline,” says Matson.
Nearly all of members are of their 20s and 30s, however an excellent quantity are considerably older, and there are even octogenarians.
Most of the members – a few of whom embody clergy and seminarians – create extremely religious artwork, whereas others partake in secular artwork. Matson factors out how there are a number of different organizations that assist the sacred arts, however not many teams that “assist the artist as a Catholic, whether or not or not their artwork has any overt religion content material.”
Matson tells what number of Catholic artists working in a secular area can discover themselves in fairly a bind. They “will not be at all times supported by the Church, whose members can deal with them with suspicion, assuming they’re responsible by affiliation with the ‘den of sin’ that’s Hollywood or fashionable artwork.” Such artists would possibly even encounter a barrier of “fortress Catholicism” from coreligionists dismissing their work as “heretical.”
On the similar time, the artwork world “can usually assume that they don’t seem to be actual artists, however solely … out to proselytize. There’s an assumption that artwork made by the lens of religion have to be unhealthy artwork.”
They could additionally really feel remoted from their peer group. Matson tells of artists sharing the “widespread expertise of feeling like they have been the one Catholics they knew working of their self-discipline.” He mentions one Broadway actress who “may go over a yr earlier than assembly one other Catholic in a solid, and she or he usually discovered different Catholics by noticing a surreptitiously hidden rosary or cross, and asking them about their religion.”
Together with connecting on a religious stage, most CAC members really feel the best profit is the weekly e-newsletter, which broadcasts “alternatives and occasions of curiosity to Catholic artists from across the nation and the world,” Matson relates. “We’ve had actors discover jobs, artists get commissions and gallery exhibits, writers get their first publication, folks discover housing, and artists discover new collaborators and associates by the e-newsletter.” He provides, “It’s additionally encouraging simply to see what fellow Catholic artists are doing all over the world every week.”
The CAC has sometimes hosted retreats and face-to-face socials, however these occasions are on hiatus as a result of pandemic. Nevertheless, the group has lately launched weekly Artist Office Hours (held by the Zoom on-line videoconferencing platform).
“Artists can drop in every week,” Matson says. They will “share their joys, challenges, and prayer requests,” together with looking for recommendation.
In 2021, the CAC goals to revamp its web site and also will search to ascertain “regional welcoming committees” each within the U.S. and overseas. This fashion, Matson says, “artists who’re shifting to a brand new space can instantly hook into the native Catholic artist neighborhood.”
Changing into a member is so simple as signing up for the e-newsletter, and there are at present no membership dues. Matson relates the CAC covers its working prices “virtually completely by particular person donations.”
The group doesn’t but have a bodily clubhouse, “but when anybody needs to supply house, we’d be blissful to speak with you,” Matson says.
Within the meantime, his group will proceed to serve each artwork and religion by nurturing the aesthetic and religious lives of its members.