My family is from a small village in Canada called Saint-Raphaël. The village is north of Québec City. As a child, I remember this tiny town and other small towns like it, that were very modest but the churches very grand. When we went inside some of the churches, I felt like I was transported into another world, or as if I was inside a jewelry box. I was enchanted by the detail of the gold encrusted architecture and candles. It was more than I could take in visually. We visited large cathedrals in Quebec City, and the size and grandeur were overwhelming. The pillars evoked the feeling of being in a forest where I could get lost for days.
I had a similar experience when I visited Tuscany. While exploring the hot and noisy towns in the summer, I stopped in several cathedrals. The feeling of being transported from the worldly to other worldly was the same. I felt enveloped by the cool darkness and musty smells of the spaces, and I felt the weight of the history and tradition of the centuries-old Christian art and architectural structures of the Renaissance.
When I visited New Mexico last year, I was also struck by the churches I visited--especially the revered pilgrimage site Santuario de Chimayo. In this church, however, I was not impressed by the ornamentation and glittering gold architecture, but by the simplicity and primitive art in the wooden interior. This space is historically rich, but it’s the simplicity that makes it just as evocative as the churches I described in Canada and Tuscany.
If it’s possible to travel, I would like to spend an extended time in Spain exploring the sacred architecture of not only the churches, but the mosques and synagogues. As a lifelong student and painter of expressionism, I plan to spend part of the time in Toledo studying the paintings of El Greco.
The painting, above, called "Sanctuary" , was inspired by my exploration of sacred architecture. It was recently sold by The District Gallery in Knoxville, TN.
This painting was also included in a virtual exhibit with ECVA. ecva.org/exhibition/worship/exhibit21-CGibbs.html
Catherine Picard Gibbs
- Through my paintings, I have become attentive to the splendid drama of my everyday world; how light hangs on a tree or building, the movement or stillness of water passing under a bridge, the mystery of a tunnel, a church interior or the grit of a train yard. My work is contemporary but takes inspiration from painters of the past.