Adoration Chapel and Prayer Garden

Submitted by Karen Schmidt Sculpture

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Client: St. Thomas More Catholic Church

Location: Paducah, KY, United States

Completion date: 2012

Artwork budget: $90,000

Project Team

Architect

A and K Construction

Interior Designer

Mark Joseph Costello, liturgical design consultant

Other

Rev. J. Patrick Reynolds, JCL

Artist

Karen Schmidt

Karen Schmidt Sculpture

Overview

This project was to provide a 3/4-life-size bronze sculpture of the Holy Family for a prayer garden at St. Thomas More Catholic Church in Paducah, Kentucky. Because the garden is visible from the Adoration Chapel through stained glass windows, the sculpture is designed to connect the outdoor and indoor spaces in an experience of worship for the body of Christ. The project combined liturgical design consultant, glass artist, architect, landscape architect, and sculptor in a collaborate and meaningful project that was completed in November 2012.

Goals

The goal for the Adoration Chapel and adjoining prayer garden was to provide spaces where worshippers could contemplate the great mystery of the presence of Christ’s body in the Eucharist. From within the chapel, the worshipper is in the presence of the Eucharist on the altar, yet is able to see the ¾-life-size sculpture of the Holy Family through the stained glass window, where it is installed within an enclosed prayer garden. This particular sculpture was selected because as the figure of Christ is lifted up by his earthly father and adored by his earthly mother, the viewer is reminded of the heavenly Father lifting up his Son to be sacrificed for the sins of the world. The sculpture assists in the adoration of Christ in the Eucharistic elements, while also providing an artistic statement for contemplation within the prayer garden.

Process

Mark Joseph Costello, the liturgical design consultant, met with the architect and the design team from St. Thomas More Catholic Church in Paducah, KY to work on the design of the Adoration Chapel, which includes two reconciliation rooms, as well as the Reservation Chapel and adjoining prayer garden. Mark Joseph had seen the maquette of my "Holy Family" and recommended this sculpture in 3/4-life size for the prayer garden.

Central to the design of the chapel and garden is the manner in which they interact. The glass window is a source of color and light for the chapel while providing a beautiful backdrop and frame for the sculpture when viewed from the garden. Landscaping, glass design, architecture, and sculpture were all integrated into one conversation as each aspect needed to compliment the goal of creating a beautiful space for prayer.

One of my favorite aspects of integration involves the sculpture base. The granite for the pedestal of the Holy Family sculpture was purchased from a local quarry, and was the same material as the stone used for the altar in the Adoration Chapel. Details like this required interdisciplinary strategies and resulted in a space that was rich with meaning.