• May 28, 2014

Heart’s Home Art Seminary in Southern France

Madison A. - Dancer

by Gael Mooney, painter

“The res­i­dency orga­nized by Fr. Paul Anel of Heart’s Home was com­prised of nine artists from the Ukraine and the United States, including visual artists, musi­cians and dancers. Key to its suc­cess was our guide Fr. Paul Anel and the other mem­bers of the Heart’s Home who wel­comed us with open arms into their home in Pignans and their extended com­mu­nity of friends and vol­un­teers, many of whom accom­pa­nied us on our daily excur­sions in the area.

Fr. Paul promised this would be a cul­tural extrav­a­ganza and pil­grimage. It was that and much more, pro­viding a rich exchange between the artists, our hosts and their friends, and an encounter with many of the most impor­tant trea­sures of medieval, modern and con­tem­po­rary art and archi­tec­ture that the region has to offer.

Some of the high­lights included a visit to the Picasso Museum and Hans Hartung and Anna-Eva Bergman Foundation in Antibes, the Matisse Chapel at Vence (where we had the great priv­i­lege of cel­e­brating a Mass) and nearby Maeght Foundation, the Cistercian Abbey of Le Thoronet and the extraor­di­nary site of the Chateau La Coste which, as both a working vine­yard and center that houses many acclaimed site specific works of con­tem­po­rary art and archi­tec­ture stands as a mon­u­ment to art, nature, the sacred and their inter-rela­tion­ship.

Through visits to the seaside, to the forest and moun­tain of Saint-Maximin-la Sainte-Baume (where Mary Magdalene spent the latter part of her life) and the Chateau Noir — a cher­ished motif that was fre­quented by Cezanne —we also immersed our­selves in the beauty of the French Riviera coun­tryside which has inspired so many extraor­di­nary works of art.

Daily Mass and prayer – typ­i­cally sung by our Ukranian sis­ters – was a con­stant reminder of the hidden source of beauty that sus­tains us in our lives and art. In fact, singing and laughter were a key com­po­nent throughout and con­stant reminder of the out­pouring of joy that is so cen­tral to our calling as artists, even in the midst of human strife and suf­fering, such as that going on in the Ukraine right now.

I was attracted to this res­i­dency because of its unique inter­sec­tion of art, cul­ture, and the Mission of Heart’s Home based upon my per­sonal con­vic­tion that all three are inti­mately inter­re­lated. My painting requires that I spend long periods of time working in iso­la­tion. The chal­lenge for me is always about how to attain the larger vision of things from which we are able to glimpse some­thing of the reality’s heights and depths, its hidden unity, har­mony and mys­tery. Through its rich inter­weaving of art, cul­ture, reli­gion and fel­low­ship, this res­i­dency has had a trans­forming impact on my eyes, my mind and my heart, helping me to glimpse some­thing of that larger vision of things that reveals the mul­ti­faceted dimen­sions of beauty that are the source of inspi­ra­tion for my life and art.”

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