World Meeting for Families: vestments and art

I wrote about the dreadful vestments used at the World Meeting For Families 2018 in Ireland. HERE

You should read what Catholic artist Daniel Mitsui wrote about how artists were invited to submit designs for the vestments and how shabbily treated they were.  HERE

I received another note today about other art works at that Meeting of Families.

Here is a sample:

You’ve got to have a hole in your head to put all this stuff out there.



About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in One Man & One Woman, Our Catholic Identity and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. rdb says:

    That’s Jar Jar Binks!

  2. robtbrown says:

    It looks like a bottle opener.

  3. CasaSanBruno says:

    Nothing so useful as a bottle opener, alas. It seems to be what Gumby would look like if he put one of those moo moo albs on.

  4. Benedict Joseph says:

    Derivative and simply inappropriate. It does not qualify as good contemporary art. It does not resemble anything worthy of the reverence offered sacred art.
    What is its purpose?

  5. Dismas says:

    Purpose? To shock, offend, and to cause despair. As for my thoughts on the vestment “competition”, what comes to mind would get me banned and require confession, accurate or not.

  6. richiedel says:

    Cyclops Gumby in a Bathrobe Tweaking out as He Trips on his Hands

  7. roma247 says:

    I agree that it is infuriating and shabby that the folks in charge presented this as an artistic competition, only to change their minds after the entries were submitted and instead award the commission to someone else.

    However, Mitsui’s rant about artistic competitions is naive at best and conceited at worst.

    Everyone in the world wants to be fairly paid for his or her labor, and this is just.

    But the world has always been filled with others who are hungrier than you, and willing to take your job if they can get it.

    In the art world particularly, it really is necessary to build a name and reputation for yourself, before you can get the commissions you crave. This can take a very, very long time, so competitions like this are a tried and tested way of getting a boost up that ladder. Many and many a famous name has risen by winning prestigious competitions. To expect that all competitions should be run the way an artist wants them, or that all commissions should be directly granted is well and fine for the fortunate few who are already be famous enough to be sought-after. But for the small guy with talent but no exposure, they can really be a golden ticket.

    The lady doth protest too much, methinks.

  8. Pingback: THVRSDAY MORNING EDITION – Big Pulpit

  9. MitisVis says:

    That is a sculpture of the Blessed Mother
    From the WMoF website:
    “Tom Glendon from Loughlinstown, County Dublin is exhibiting a preliminary model for a concept imagined in life size, entitled Mary’s Waiting. It is influenced by the Annunciation and St. Luke’s story of how the twelve-year-old Jesus was lost, then found, during a return trip from Jerusalem.
    A light placed above the sculpture shines through a halo onto the empty waiting arms of Mary. Tom is inspired by Pope Francis’ assertion in Amoris Laetitia, that “every family, despite its weaknesses, can become a light in the darkness of the world” (Amoris Laetitia, 66).”

  10. Dismas says:

    @MitisVis – Hey! I was eating! Ugh!

  11. Semper Gumby says:

    Hmm…This sculpture seems to be inspired by one of those liquid-metal shape-shifting creatures from the Terminator movies caught in the act of recovering from a gunshot wound.

    Catholic art, per Paul Johnson, should have a rational foundation, a skilled representation of the human form, and the subject should be an individual made in the image of God rather than an abstract and soul-less symbol.

    This sculpture appears to be not Catholic art but merely a pursuit of the latest trend in pop culture.

    For a sculpture of Mary the Renaissance could serve as an inspiration rather than, as robtbrown points out, a rummage through the kitchen drawer for a bottle-opener.

  12. surritter says:

    The link to Daniel Mitsui’s blog (about how the artists were treated) is now gone — I wonder if he was compelled to remove it by someone.

  13. Crabbetrywe says:

    It appears to be regarding its hands as if they were covered in something horrifying.

    “Whose hands are these? Ha! They’re plucking out my eyes.”

  14. richiedel says:


    The concepts the author was attempting to convey through the sculpture were indeed noble, however, artistic tastes aside, there is way too much going on in the sculpture, provided that it’s viewer understands the concepts being conveyed and makes all those connections while viewing the piece, for one to expect the viewer to be truly inspired by such a piece. One is moved to more if an intellectual “Oh, I see what he did there”, as opposed to the beauty of the piece in its simpler conveyance of these concepts serving as an initial foundation upon which the viewer lifts mind and heart to the assent towards the emulation of these concepts in one’s own life.

  15. youngcatholicgirl says:

    My first reaction was that it was supposed to be Our Lady, but why no head? The thing is weird.

  16. Dismas says:

    “Nazgûl Bottle-Opener” – a critique
    The artist makes an effort to convey a dress. Even so, the leg is defined as if nude, suggesting that the figure is wearing something VERY sheer and clingy, or perhaps the figure transcends clothing. The posture is … mostly feminine, palms upward in a gesture of receiving. Yet the complete lack of breasts, oversized hands and feet, man-spread knees, etc. declares that the figure is biologically male. Even so, the shoulders are narrow, arms slim, again emphasizing the feminine. The head is completely missing, replaced with a geometric shape with a hole in it, an overly-used trope to indicate that the subject is only an abstract idea, not a particular person at all. In summary, a confused, perverted, and wholly worthless exercise in mental masterbation.

  17. jaykay says:

    “A light placed above the sculpture shines through a halo onto the empty waiting arms of Mary.”

    All well and good, and accepting that it’s a model/scheme for a proposed work, but if so, it’s a roughwork sketch for a work that just doesn’t work, because the curved extension, with the sharp edges and the hole, can only be interpreted as a head that seems, mass-wise, to leave no material that can be formed into an actual head, as we know it. A “head” with a hole is a head with a halo?

    Ok, I can see where it’s going, in an abstract way, but as Dismas commented, the relative proportions are all over the place and the bare legs are not fitting for a 1st century Jewish woman, let alone Our Lady.

    No, I’m not scandalised – just bored.

  18. jaykay says:

    robtbrown: “It looks like a bottle opener.”

    Well, yes, that did strike me, but we Irish are not unknown to like our “refreshments”, after all. Artistic influence, and all that. Or “under the influence” as the legal term over here has it.

  19. Charlotte Allen says:

    The “Singing Angel Water Font” is nice.

    But that statue, supposedly of the Blessed Virgin, is one scary Mary! She doesn’t even look particularly female: huge hands and feet and no breasts. I’m interpreting the shiny hole in the “head” on that statue as a spotlight. Which means that the statue might be useful to have around the house to scare your kids into being good: “Mary has her spotlight on YOU!” So, see, there’s a “family” connection in that statue after all.

    I think it’s interesting that Daniel Mitsui’s art has been inspired by the Book of Kells and the Lindisfarne Gospels. That’s exactly what I though when I was researching triskeles for the thread on the vestments. His own vestment design was quite beautiful, I thought.

  20. MitisVis says:

    What concerns me is that art, music and writing has always been a window to the culture of the age. Art went off the rails as the age of rebellion took over and has now become a vehicle of expression without boundaries. There is good modern art, music etc but my first impression of this statue was “it’s a lewd alien”, then read it was Mary. Noble idea maybe, maybe not. But being displayed by our church at this time, at the WMoF, as a depiction of Our Lady shows me just how far off the rails some sectors of the church have gone.
    I’m beginning to think we’ll need to address the “rebellion” long before we’ll recover the truth and beauty in the church, in liturgy or anything else. We’ve become numb by it all. Our Lady is owed due respect no matter what the intent

  21. Dismas says:

    Oh, I can’t say that this manages to nudge my scandalometer. If anything, the monumental banality of modern art *belongs* at an event in honor of a Jesuit.

    That it is probably a backhanded attempt to depict the Blessed Mother as a drag queen is actually passé, by 30 years now. I lived through the 80’s. Real drag queens have already done what the statue can merely suggest. If anything, I am aghast that the artist isn’t already being sued for infringement. This tired old blasphemy, 30 years past its time, also belongs in the company of Fr. Martin and Cardinal Farrell. I can think of nothing more fitting for them.

  22. kelleyb says:

    In the run up to World Meeting of Families, I thought it would be the “coming out” party of the Lavender Mafia, in charity, I didn’t say it out loud. But after seeing the pastel ‘vestments’ and reading the opening salvo from Fr. Martin, I am convinced that the LM believes they have won. Will the Pope make more ‘changes’ to our fundamental dogmas?

  23. Charles E Flynn says:

    “I’m so confused. I wonder if Gumbi can help me. At least he doesn’t have a hole in his head.”

  24. Nigelteapot says:

    kelleyb, fundamental dogmas and doctrines cannot be changed. If a Pope would try, it would only out him as a heretic.

  25. maternalView says:

    Another piece of self-centered art.

    Beautiful old works by the masters weren’t vague. They took you right to the point –Mary’s Magnificat or John’s beheading for example. They made you think about God.

    This modern stuff is self-aware, self-centered. The viewer is forced into not thinking of things beyond themselves and the supernatural but about the artist and what is he trying to do or say. Or what is being revealed about what he thinks? Or what is on his soul? Or how is he trying to get us to see things??? Etc.

    Big fat waste of time.

    Clever or large doesn’t make it good.

    Can we just stop calling this stuff art?

  26. maternalView says:

    To wash the image of awful art from your brain may I suggest these:

    From which I quote:
    “What was truly lost were several ideas held by the Greeks, the early Church Fathers, such as St. Augustine, and the medieval Scholastics. Among them:

    1) Beauty is a reflection of God.

    2) Beauty is in the eye of beholder, but also in the object. Both are necessary.

    3) Order, symmetry, clarity, and light contribute to making something beautiful.

    4) An artist must be trained.

    5) The artist serves the people by putting onto canvas, or glass, and so on, the Christian story (particularly for the illiterate).

    6) Beauty lifts the soul, lifts up our hearts to God. It is a window into heaven.

    All of this, literally, comes into focus when medieval art is compared with modern art. As Chesterton said, “Art in the middle ages was ‘art for God’s sake’; art in the Renaissance was ‘art for man’s sake’; art in the 19th century was ‘art for art’s sake’; now art in the 20th century is ‘no art, for God’s sake.’””

    Art like everything else has been turned into the ugly. Time to call it what it is. Ugly.

Comments are closed.