Exploring Faith Through Art

By Brianna Gleghorn

Art lovers and people of faith learned about history and faith inspired art from Louis Zona, executive director and chief curator of the Butler Institute of American Art, on March 24 at the former First Christian Church, which is now the Butler North.

During Zona’s presentation, he showed pictures of several pieces such as “The Last Supper.” These pieces were made by famous artist Leonardo Da Vinci and Michelangelo.

“Sometimes I look at [“The Last Supper”], and it’s like I’m looking at it for the first time,” he said.

These pieces included well-known religious figures such as the crucification of Jesus Christ, the Virgin Mary and saints. Every piece of art showed history and incorporated faith into each sculpture or painting, but also showed a deeper message.

Zona talked about each piece giving both the faith and art analysis of each. For example, “The Last Supper” was about the last meal that Jesus had with his disciples before his crucifixion, but Zona also showed the one-point perspective where all of the lines come back to one point in the center.

The lecture was sponsored by the Catholic Diocese of Youngstown 75th Anniversary Committee. The Diocese celebrated their 75-year anniversary May 15, 2018. Since that day, they have been celebrating through different events.  

Barbara Walko, the Diocesan director of religious education, saw this event as an opportunity for the public to view the collection and hear Zona speak, and people have often said how art enhances their faith.

“Through the year we have had different prayer services and opportunities for people to learn the history, particularly lectures,” she said. “It was suggested we do something with art because art is such a way to use our religious imagination.”

John and Elaine Donchess heard about the event in a newsletter from the Diocese. Elaine Donchess also works part time at the Diocese, and said she appreciates the God-given gifts of others.

“They are showing the talents of so many people that are amazing to me because I only draw stick figures,” she said.

John Donchess said when people go through the churches in Italy and when they see the magnificent works of art of all kinds, it enriches their faith.

The lecture was given in the church adjacent to the Butler, now Butler North. This building has enabled the Butler to expand collections, add classrooms and a performance space.