The one thing I enjoy so much about attending Mass each week, sitting in my pew as we worship God, is seeing the members of our community all around the room. What a wonderful feeling it is being part of something so special; even more so knowing there are so many gifted people so close at hand.
As I look up at the beautifully carved Risen Jesus hanging high over the altar there is a feeling of peace and contentment knowing that there is more to our daily living struggles.
I have traveled throughout the world and my feet have walked through many of the great cathedrals, churches, museums and government buildings that hold the creative treasures of famous artists. I know little of great art other than to recognize that some work is more beautifully crafted than others. I'm not sure I could name more than a handful of those artists. I have, however, taken the time to learn a little about the one great artist each parishioner of Saint John Fisher should know and appreciate. His name is Deane G. Keller.
Mr. Keller was born on August 1, 1940 in New Haven, Connecticut. Well educated in the arts, he eventually became a Professor of Drawing and Anatomy at the Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts in Old Lyme. Passing way on January 4, 2005, he left a legacy, not only in the art world but directly to our Saint John Fisher parish. To quote his obituary:
An accomplished artist and sculptor, his works are housed in several permanent collections including the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art in Hartford, Brandywine River Museum in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, Slater Memorial Museum in Norwich, Connecticut, Woodstock School of Art, Thomas Merton Studies Center at Bellarmine University, Louisville, Kentucky, Yale University, St. Raphael's Hospital (where his statue of Mother Elizabeth Seton graces the entrance hall), and Asylum Hill Congregational Church in Hartford. His works have also been exhibited throughout New England, the Midwest and in Italy.
Deane was a recognized authority on drawing in the classical tradition, on representational art, especially the human figure, and was revered as a master draftsman, teacher, author and lecturer. He was particularly fascinated with the Middle East to which he and his wife Dorothy (herself a professor of Art History at St. Joseph's College) made regular trips to archeological sites. "Everything about these lands - the light, the desert, the ancient life-ways and the strong sense of history and prehistory - appeals to me," he wrote.
Mr. Keller lived here in Marlborough and attended our parish. The Risen Jesus is his work and something each and every one of us should appreciate. I would guess that the average person exposed to many of the great artworks throughout the world would stop seeing the beauty of those works, although I find that hard to imagine.
The next time you gaze at the Risen Jesus seeming to float above the altar, take a moment to reflect on the talents that God has given us and how our hearts and hands can create such great beauty.
Photo by Anthony Gargon