I've long been fond of Picasso's prints. He's not in Rembrandt's league, but who is? His Le Suite Vollard has some very nice works in it. Minotauromachy is not a part of the suite, but is from the same time period. It is by far his best print. Anyone who is familiar with the Vollard Suite knows its primary subject matter is Picasso's love life. Picasso, in many respects, was an epicurean. That's fine for Picasso, but I'm not. I'm a Catholic, and all that entails. I recognize the body, but I don't live for pleasure or its seeking. All this leads me to last summer, when I visited a monastery in Alabama. Yes, there are Catholic monasteries in Alabama. I visited two of them. One was a Poor Clares monastery where Mother Angelica and her nuns live. It is a wonderful place to pray. There is no way to convey the atmosphere of the medieval-style basilica that is their church. You'd have to visit it to understand. My wife and I also went to a Benedictine monastery about fifty miles away from Mother Angelica's Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament. It has been there since the nineteenth century, and is a prep school in addition to a monastery.
Before I made my pilgrimage, I was very stressed out. Teaching high school is no picnic, but I also would not trade it for the life I was trained for at Pratt. I have less time to make art, and skipped exhibiting for a long time until just a few years ago, but there is something in teaching that teaches the teacher. I'm a better artist and a better thinker because of the challenges of instructing young people who are going through the craziness of their teens. I have met and had influence over some very fine people, many who are my friends for life after they leave high school. But by June, 2013, I was frazzled.
Something clicked in Alabama, however. A peace came over me that I cannot describe. A deeper way of looking at my life and my purpose than I had before, and I'm not wet behind the ears. I suspect a prolonged study of St. Thomas Aquinas may have prepared me for this. It was the first thing I did last summer. Mortimer Adler was right when he said that some books you can read many times and get something new out of them that you didn't get before, because these books, like Aquinas' Commentary on Aristotle's Metaphysics, are always over one's head. That's why you can read Hamlet and get a new insight into life that wasn't evident before.
I converted to Catholicism twenty-two years ago, from a worldview in which I was "spiritual" but unformed. Last summer I received a deeper formation, a deeper conversion, I hope. That is what Le Suite Gesu is about. It is 100 prints dedicated to my love life, which is not epicurean. It is a love of Jesus, Mary, and the saints. If you knew me many years ago, you'd wonder who this guy is.
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