Artist paints Stations of the Cross, ‘bringing life’ to iconic images at Grand Forks’ St. Michael’s Church – Grand Forks Herald

GRAND FORKS – Final December, the Rev. Raymond Courtright of St. Michael’s Catholic Church was on the hunt for anyone to paint the Stations of the Cross, Biblical scenes that have adorned niches in the partitions of the sanctuary for much more than a century.

William Rerick, who grew up here and now teaches higher college artwork in San Antonio, Texas, was encouraged by a relative to speak to Courtright about the undertaking. When they met, Courtright handed Rerick a 2-foot-very long plaster replica of Jesus as an toddler and requested him to paint it.

The replica – which experienced been stored in an attic for who is aware of how extended – was in rough issue, deteriorating from neglect, Courtright stated. “Some of the fingers and toes experienced broken off.” It was on the verge of getting discarded.

“(Rerick) arrived again an hour-and-a-50 % afterwards with the Little one Jesus,” Courtright recalled, noting how impressed he was by how intricately the figure was painted and how the toes and fingers had been changed.

“He described the colors he used” and his procedure, Courtright remembered. “I mentioned, ‘You’re the gentleman for the occupation.’”

Rerick, who has never ever tackled a position of this kind, claimed, “I experienced to demonstrate myself” with the toddler product.

“Look at how lots of shades are in the hair,” Courtright said, holding the figure when the Herald visited the church before this week. “There should be five shades, at minimum.”

Rerick began doing work on the 14 scenes in early June, he mentioned. The project is anticipated to be done in the following week or so.

“I required folks to see the faces and expressions and (the figures) currently being alive,” Courtright stated, to boost their understanding of “what’s heading on at these stations.”

The Stations of the Cross are a 14-stage Catholic devotion that commemorates Jesus Christ’s last working day on Earth as a person. The collection, which signifies unique functions and commences with His condemnation, is generally utilized as a shorter-sort pilgrimage as the unique moves from station to station, reciting certain prayers at every single.

The prayers are commonly spoken during Lent on Wednesdays and Fridays, and in particular on Superior Friday, the day of the year on which the activities transpired.

Influenced by the masters

“It’s unbelievable,” Courtright said of Rerick’s work. Previously this 7 days, a handful of far more Stations had but to be re-mounted in the niches that line the church sanctuary. They selection from 100 to 200 kilos each and every.

The 14th Station, representing the deposition of Christ – the stage when Christ is introduced down from the cross immediately after crucifixion – is the very last to be completely painted, and is dependent on 1 of Caravaggio’s masterpiece paintings.

“What color will you make the fabric?” Courtright requested Rerick as they stood in the get the job done area sectioned off powering major plastic sheeting in the church basement.

The priest has remaining this and other inventive conclusions to the artist, who has exhibited his skills in the use of paint colour, method and tools, Courtright claimed.

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Artist William Rerick will work to restore the Stations of the Cross in St. Michael’s Catholic Church in Grand Forks.

Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald

In the Stations of the Cross at other church buildings, “pastel hues, happy shades have usually been employed,” explained Rerick, a 2012 graduate of Red River Higher University and 2016 alumnus of UND, where by he attained a Bachelor of Fine Arts diploma in visible arts. He also holds a Grasp of Fantastic Arts diploma from the University of Tennessee-Knoxville, acquired in 2020.

“The shades should really be melancholic,” he said, so darkish and rich shades have been made use of.

“I test to glance at icons” of the artwork world, revered painters of the past, Rerick claimed, “and the record of how these figures have been painted.”

He uses artist-grade acrylic paint and at times mixes them to “make alternate options.” Brushes, relatively than spray paint, are made use of to achieve his sought after result, he reported.

With brushes, the conclude outcome “is not the same” as spray paint, Courtright reported.

He creates an impact whereby “the eyes will be shiny,” claimed Rerick. “You can see tears on some of them. On Mary, you can see her crying.”

Courtright stated, “The tears are something I have in no way seen on Stations. It is one thing I wouldn’t have considered of, but it seems superior.”

Originally, the Stations of the Cross at St. Michael’s have been painted with coloration, Courtright stated. Yrs back, most likely in the late ‘50s or early ‘60s – a period of time marked by a want for change – they were being whitewashed, making their features considerably less discernible, as they blended into the history.

Describing to parishioners why he was “so irked to see them whitewashed,” Courtright mentioned, he pointed to the very first station, showcasing Pontius Pilate’s judgment of Jesus. A guy with a club stands to the facet as Pilate washes his palms, symbolic of staying away from blame for Jesus’ murder.

“It appears to be like like Jesus is going out to engage in baseball with his close friends,” he stated. “Pilate looks like he’s pouring oil into his mitt.”

Painting the statues can make their expressions, gestures and system language stand out additional, he said. “It will help link us back again to Jesus’ struggling and death. It connects us to our struggling.

The pictures are deeply relocating, he claimed. “They tell the tale once again and yet again.”

Courtright, who came to St. Michael’s Church two several years ago, said he’s been chatting to parishioners about portray the Stations of the Cross for about a calendar year. “I’ve talked about: what are they and why do we have them?”

Not all of the feedback was constructive.

A person parishioner, a church member for lots of a long time, “was upset with me, and preferred to know, why are you switching items?” Courtright said. “I mentioned I’m not shifting things I’m bringing them back to the way they used to be.”

When Courtright defined the downsides of colorless figures, the parishioner sat in a pew to see for himself and then wrote a verify to pay the cost of painting one particular of the stations.

The wide majority, about 95%, of parishioners “are just ecstatic” about the undertaking, Courtright stated.

The conclusion to go ahead with it was unanimously endorsed by the church council and its fiscal council. It expenditures about $3,000 per station “to deliver life into them,” he claimed.

In this venture, “lots of volunteers” have come ahead to get the job done with Rerick “on cleaning and basic duties,” he said. “I am so blessed that way. There is so numerous practical men and women, which include substantial faculty students – I educate (them) as nicely, which has been exciting. …”

For some parishioners, it’s a heartfelt knowledge.

“My aunt was cleansing the facial area of Jesus and started out crying,” Rerick claimed

After the surfaces had been cleaned, a layer of gesso, a type of primer, was applied. Then the portray began.

“Some parishioners have stated, ‘I bought to paint some of the statues,’” Courtright said. “I request them what section, and they say, ‘Oh, the back again portion.’”

For Rerick, this job has been especially meaningful. And the gravity of it is not shed on him.

“I grew up listed here. I was utilized to them without having colour. I realized (they) wanted shade,” he said. But “there was constantly that prospect I wouldn’t like what I did.”

Rerick is content with the consequence, he stated.

“I am blessed to have the career. I’m blessed to have my art. And it feels actually great to do a thing meaningful with it.”

“This is my aspiration: to do art for the Church,” Rerick stated. “I’ve been portray for 10 many years, and have never ever finished religious painting – despite the fact that I’ve completed faith-infuenced artwork,” influenced by the operates of masters this sort of as Rubens and Botticelli.

“I imagine art for God is the most effective type of art.”