by Luis Trujillo
On January 31st The Press hosted an international artist with amazing talent and a particular love and devotion to the sacred. Tomasz Misztal is an artist who is praised for his versatility and his transmission of his faith to his works. A Roman Catholic born in Poland under the communist regime, he put himself through the Academy of Fine Arts in Gdansk, Poland, and obtained a Ph.D. Misztal shared his insights on the process of his creations as well as the importance of the pastor in the process of design in his own parish.
Upon sharing his insights of the process of making each piece of artwork which primarily consists of sculptures, he made it clear that “work is prayer. Every time I go to my studio I go to myself.” Misztal explained that when working on a piece he needed silence, tying the process to his previous knowledge and importance of the Rule of St. Benedict.
According to Misztal, the studio he works in is not only the physical shop; it is also the interior of the soul. He explained how he needed a clean physical studio to create something beautiful. So, too, must his interior studio be clean. He said the sacraments are essential nourishment.
Misztal has four major steps when he is about to do a piece that are based on lectio divina. He draws a harmonious relationship with spiritual practice. First there is lectio; just like reading scriptures he must first research his topic. Meditation is the pondering of the material he researched. The meditation leads him to oratio or prayer. The last part of the prayer is contemplation, silent prayer which “pushes me [him] to the tools.”
The priest, he claimed, has a big responsibility with his parishioners to have art in his parish that will be transporting of the spirit. He used the metaphor of a beautifully dressed woman with a beautiful gown and her hair done, but the crowning piece is a stunning jewel.
So, too, in a church the people may have an extraordinary structure but it needs that jewel, the beautiful piece of art to make it complete. Misztal recommended religious leaders find zeal in the artists involved in parish art and exclaimed his dislike of generic art from a catalog. Misztal urged pastors to choose art that is unique.