The Villanova University Art Gallery proudly presents The Love Which Moves the Sun and Stars: The Art of Brother Mickey McGrath and A Collection of Papal Artifacts, on display April 11-August 10. The exhibit, which coincides with the fifth anniversary of the election of Pope Francis, includes many pieces that were directly inspired by the Pope’s words or deeds. Other pieces convey the spirit of mercy and compassion that has been the hallmark of his papacy. The Love Which Moves the Sun and Stars includes more than 50 pieces: acrylic paintings, pen and ink drawings, and digital drawings on cloth, paper, and glass. Interspersed among Br. McGrath’s artwork will be a variety of Papal artifacts including clothing, shoes, and vessels worn or used by Pope Francis and his predecessors; along with coins, stamps, photographs and other items commemorating significant Papal events.
The Love Which Moves the Sun and Stars: The Art of Brother Mickey McGrath, OSFS and a Collection of Papal Artifacts opens Monday, April 11, with a reception to meet the artist on Friday, April 27 from 5-8 pm. The exhibit continues to Friday, August 10. The Art Gallery is located in the Connelly Center on the Villanova campus. Convenient on-campus parking is available. More information is available on the gallery’s website at www.artgallery.villanova.edu. The exhibit is scheduled in conjunction with a conference hosted by Villanova University’s Institute for Catholic Social Thought titled Francis, a Voice Crying Out in the World: Mercy, Justice, Love, and Care for the Earth, to be held April 12-15. More information is available at https://www1.villanova.edu/villanova/mission/mercyjusticelovecare.html.
A piece that Br. McGrath identifies as central to the theme of the exhibit is “The Sacred Heart of the Cosmos,” depicting a brown-skinned Christ against a black sky, surrounded by the stars and planets, his radiant heart beaming through the darkness. The figure itself is based on a 13th Century carving of Christ that sits above the central entrance to Chartres Cathedral. Br. McGrath created the image digitally on his iPad and had it printed on 18” x 24” glass. The piece embodies several characteristics that are fundamental to Br. McGrath’s style: strong color and line, a traditional figure or theme in a modern treatment, and a spiritual message of openness and curiosity. As Br. McGrath puts it, “I like to take the traditional and give it a new twist. The Sacred Heart of the Cosmos is a dramatic picture, and—I hope—it expands our sense of who God is.”
Also among the pieces on display in The Love Which Moves the Sun and Stars are many of Br. McGrath’s “illuminations”—quotes from Pope Francis that the artist has embellished in the spirit of illuminated manuscripts from the Middle Ages. Viewers of Br. McGrath’s other works will notice that people of all races and ethnicities are represented. The artist, who lives and works in Camden, NJ, credits his community with opening his eyes to the beauty that can be found among the marginalized: “I’ve lived [in Camden] nine years and it’s given me a whole new take on beauty and its importance, and how it is an expression of God’s presence. I see beauty in places I never saw before—in the areas the rest of the world has rejected.”
Br. Mickey McGrath, OSFS is a prolific artist, but not a frequent exhibitor. He travels across the country and internationally delivering talks on a wide variety of topics, utilizing his artwork to help facilitate dialogue among his audiences. He is the author of 21 books, including two that center on Pope Francis (Dear Young People and Our Common Home). Br. McGrath’s training as an artist began at Moravian College in Bethlehem, PA, where he majored in art. He later received an MFA in Painting at the American University in Washington, DC. For 11 years, he was an associate professor of Studio Art and Art History at De Sales University in Center Valley, PA from where he transitioned in 1994 into his current work. In 2017, he celebrated forty years as a Religious Brother in the Oblates of St. Francis de Sales.
The Villanova University Art Gallery is open weekdays from 9 a.m. -11 p.m. For extended and weekend hours, and other information, contact the Art Gallery at (610) 519-4612. More information is available on the Gallery's website: www.artgallery.villanova.edu.