St. Joseph Catholic Church

Submitted by Ulrika Leander

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Client: St.Joseph Catholic Church

Location: Downingtown, PA, United States

Completion date: 2008

Project Team

Artist

Ulrika Leander

Art Consultant

Charles Flynn

Overview

The art consultant working on behalf of a private donor and with the church liturgical committee requested proposals for a large-scale tapestry to be located on the 25 ft high wall behind the altar. The design brief indicated that the scale, geometry and placement of the tapestry should be chosen with regard to the overall architectural elements of the building and with the existing liturgical furnishings; concepts for theme, symbols, style and colors and the overall dimensions of the tapestry were not stipulated

Goals

In addition to providing inspiration an spiritual resonance, it was critically important for the design to be aesthetically integrated with the existing liturgical furnishings, alar and crucifix and with the larger-scale architectural elements of the church interior and to bring a sense of harmony to the worship environment.

Process

During site visits and meetings with the donor, the art consultant and the liturgical committee, a general consensus emerged that the site needed a work of vision and creativity which would elevate the heart and mind in an expression of communal faith. However the committee decided not to develop a specific design brief, preferring to defer to the artist’s experience. Several alternative approaches were developed and presented for consideration and a unanimous recommendation was reached for the “Mary’s Gift” design to be hand-woven into a tapestry measuring 198 ins. high and 69 ins. wide. The rectangular geometry of the tapestry connects with the strong vertical lines of the group of stained glass windows set in the adjacent wall and the tapestry is carefully positioned relative to the central focus of the crucifix. The color palette was developed to reproduce some of the colors of the stained glass; excluding green and white from the tapestry design allows a connectivity with the stained glass without being repetitive. A brickwork motif was introduced into the image to represent the foundational strength of the church.