Art and religion impress a significant mark on people’s hearts and minds. When analyzing something as meaningful as faith, it’s not surprising to see its impact on the art and design world. It is something that intersects the spiritual and physical and inspires how we live and respond to life. It requires us to exercise our empathy and consideration and continues to grant us hope for the future. No wonder many artists turn to their faith as it hones in a sense of familiarity and inspiration to grace their chosen mediums.
We see this throughout history, particularly in the Catholic Church. Divine inspiration is revealed in Leonardo Da Vinci’s The Last Supper and on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. It is unmistakably articulated through Michelangelo’s other great works. His last work, Pietà, encompasses Mary holding up Christ after He is taken off the cross. But if one studies the piece closer, it can be argued that Christ is also holding up Mary.
The juxtaposition of the two figures reveal Michelangelo’s fervent faith and admiration for God especially nearing his impending death. It is believed this “Pietà” is an unintended example of contemporary art. The 3-dimensional piece displays ambiguity while showing disproportions that allow for a less-lifelike, more modern interpretation of the post-crucifixion moment. This and other iconic works present a spiritual dialogue summoned through divine inspiration and the human imagination.
Over 18 years ago, Interi’s founder and creative director, Jean O’Reilly Barlow, envisioned the fusion between 16th-18th century Italian church artifacts that had fallen into disuse and natural specimens – creating a matrimony between the Christian relics and organic modern art. Once works of art that graced churches throughout Europe, Jean now transforms the fragments from their original context while preserving the beauty and sacredness of each piece.
Each detail looks as though it had organically grown from the artifact, perfecting the art of illusion and evoking man-made evolution. Each piece displays a contemporary work of old and new while drawing close to the original spiritual connotation. The figurative elements represent a powerful message of redemption and transformation – not just in a literal sense of what each symbol has come to represent, but also in metaphor. The sacred ecclesiastical artifacts that were once broken and discarded have been restored into a new sculptural work and present a modern interpretation of divine love symbolized through a cross or on canvas to capture Emmanuel – “God is with us.”
View the collections below and click on the images to be redirected to the collection link.
18th century Italian stations of the cross on calcite crystals in matrix with a natural forming baroque pearl.
18th century Italian gold leaf wood fragment figure of Christ on a calcite crystal cluster in matrix from Elmwood Mine, Tennessee. It is an example of the world’s finest crystallized calcite. With the unusual formation of sphalerite and galena, it is unequaled by those from any other part of the world (referenced from the “American Mineral Treasure” book, pg. 337).