Jim Hundt worked for twenty years as a church architect before shifting to a career as a liturgical art consultant. Based in Upstate New York, Hundt’s Artsphere Consulting works with artists and craftsmen from all over the world to enhance places of worship. We asked him to tell why he makes the case for commissioned artwork with his liturgical clients–and why it’s important to do so.
How did you get started in your career as a liturgical art consultant?
I have worked as a church architect for over twenty years and was discouraged when clients would purchase artwork for their new or renovated churches from a catalog. I saw an opportunity to facilitate the purchase of commissioned art by becoming the go-between between the client and the artist, making it easier for both to work together toward a successful art installation.
Tell us about a favorite project you worked on that included a commissioned work of art.
We commissioned four works of art for the Church of the Holy Spirit in Cortland Manor, NY. Two of the commissions, fourteen Stations of the Cross and a baptismal bowl, were created from painted glass and glass mosaic tile by the same Korean studio. The other commission involved a wood custom-carved statue fabricated in Italy set in front of a hand-painted mural by a New York-based artist.
Do you find that most clients are receptive to including artwork in a project?
There are two important components to getting clients to include artwork in their projects. The first is to broach the subject early on before they go off and come up with something on their own. The second is to help them understand the long-term value of commissioned art and what it can mean to the members of their congregation if done properly.
What helps you make the case for commissioned art?
It helps to start talking about art from the very start. Include a budget line item for it in the project budget and talk about its importance in achieving the goals of the space. Then show them that commissioned art is actually affordable and working with artists is not necessarily difficult – especially if we serve as the intermediary.