A Course on Catholic art, for both Artists and Patrons

9 11 2010

I want to direct readers to the Maryvale Institute in Birmingham England and its course Art, Beauty and Inspiration from a Catholic Perspective. The Maryvale Institute is a Catholic college known internationally both for the quality of the education it offers and its fidelity to the Magisterium. I have visited this college many times over the years and its very special approach to education gave me insights into how artists ought to be taught today. I wrote about this in an article Art, Grace and Education, which first appeared in the journal Second Spring. I should declare at this point that I worked closely with the faculty (from whom I learnt a great deal) in the creation of this course and was one of the lecturers on its residential weekends before I came to work in the US.

This course is for both practising artists and for those interested in art, including its role in Christian life, liturgy and catechetics. It is a part-time, distance-learning, one-year course and so it is ideal for mature students anywhere in the world (as such it is complementary to Thomas More College of Liberal Arts, in New Hampshire, which offers this to a more conventional body of undergraduate students). It is very reasonably priced and is structured so that it can be combined with a working life. It is credit rated at undergraduate level.

It introduces the riches of the whole Christian tradition and its continued inspiration in both the East and the West up until the present day, rooted above all in the Incarnation and the Paschal Mystery.

The course does not presume, nor require, any specific abilities or skills in art. Nonetheless, it was established in direct response to John Paul II’s Letter to Artists and aims to stimulate and inspire a new wave of Catholic artists to create a new ‘epiphany of beauty’ in religious art.

Included in this course is the role of art in liturgy and in catechesis, as well as how artists have drawn inspiration for their work in the light of grace, the daily life of the Church and the action of the Holy Spirit.  The course explores the ways that visual art forms can reflect timeless truths and a holistic Catholic world view that can speak to the needs that today’s men and women have for beauty, goodness and truth.

There is a topical connection. John Henry Newman lived there temporarily before establishing the Birmingham Oratory in its permanent site. In 1846, Newman and his community who had recently been received into the Church were granted the former seminary as a house of retreat and study.   It was Newman and his followers who gave it the name ‘Maryvale’ after St Philip Neri’s church in Rome.




3 responses

25 01 2011
Where can Catholics Go to Learn to Paint in the Naturalistic Tradition? « The Way of Beauty

[…] to learn this aspect in isolation the Maryvale Institute’s excellent distance-learning programme Art, Inspiration and Beauty from a Catholic Perspective is recommended. They are about to offer this in the US, through the Diocese of Kansas City, which […]

23 02 2011

Greetings, I am a Catholic high school art teacher. I am researching a new class for our seniors that would focus on the Catholic religion in the Visual Arts. If anyone has any information, or can point me in any direction, about this topic, I would appreciate it. Perhaps you may be familiar with a curriculum based on this subject matter even on a college level, or even websites and/or books. Thanks very much for your help.

24 02 2011

Dear Toni, thank you for your reply. There are a number of options for you here (I am assuming that you live in the US?) I should explain also, that I am English, so I don’t know how high school material is validated for credit. I am going to suggest courses that you take. I am thinking primarily that you take the courses that I am abuot to suggest. Although all are open to high school seniors so you may be able to encourage some to come.
There are our summer program classes. If you want to do the practical as well (eg icon painting or academic drawing) then do the two week – we can issue you with a letter saying that you attended it and it might be eligible for your continuing education budget. I designed the Maryvale course along with the staff at the Institute and teach a distilled version through lectures that support the classes. Then you can pass it on to your students. http://thewayofbeauty.org/workshops-and-retreats/
If you don’t want the practical stuff, then come for the weekend retreat in August. That will teach you a lot of the material and point you in the direction of more research. Incidentally, these are open to high school seniors as well as mature students. If there is a way that you can help us make this valid for credit, then please work with us and we will do what we can.
A third alternative is to wait a year and then do the Maryvale course, but offered through the diocese of Kansas City (I think that’s KC, Kansas not MO). They are offering their courses starting next year.
Hope that is helpful – do let me know if there is something else I can give you.

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