Catholic sculptor hopes to encourage along with his liturgical artwork

Dony Mac Manus of Falls Church, Virginia, carves the physique of Christ on the cross within the basement of his dwelling on February 10, 2021 (CNS Picture / Matt Riedl, Catholic Herald)

By Zoey Maraist Catholic Information Service

FALLS CHURCH, Va. (CNS) – On the age of seven, Dony Mac Manus’ mom gave him a bag of clay for his birthday.

The boy was not thrilled to obtain what he thought of to be a bit of mud.

However he rapidly realized to create lovely issues with this humble sack of moldable dust. “She confirmed me tips on how to do what I wished,” Mac Manus mentioned. “It opened up a complete world to me.”

Mac Manus has sculpted ever since, beginning with elephants and vehicles and transferring to bronze statues of holy women and men on show in church buildings around the globe. Just lately, the Irish artist moved to Northern Virginia, and he hopes to share his love of artwork and God with younger folks right here, simply as his mom first shared with him.

“I see my vocation, my vocation as an artist is to resuscitate the Christian custom within the visible arts,” Mac Manus advised the Arlington Catholic Herald, Journal of the Diocese of Arlington.

The sculptor, 49, was born in Dublin and raised in a pious Catholic household. Dyslexia pushed him in direction of artwork.

“Dyslexia was a giant a part of my coaching as an individual as a result of it closed areas in my life, made college fairly troublesome when it got here to numbers and letters,” he mentioned. declared. “It compelled me to undertake one other grammar, one other language by which to grasp the world, and myself, and talk with the world.”

After highschool he attended the Nationwide Faculty of Artwork and Design in Dublin however was deeply dismayed by his notion of his ideological motivation.

“The sculpture division wished to take me out of the nice arts division as a result of my understanding of what it means to be a human being was very opposite to their understanding,” he mentioned. “They have been extra involved in deconstructing artwork historical past and I actually wasn’t shopping for that.”

He due to this fact joined the craft division and realized goldsmithing and silversmithing.

“They gave me the bottom (passing) rating doable, however that very same yr I received the Craftsman of the Yr award in Eire, and was chosen by the Nationwide Museum of Eire. to launch the up to date silver assortment, ”he mentioned.

After graduating, he hung out in New York, Florence, Italy, Rome and Dublin taking courses, educating and doing artwork.

For an Irish rehabilitation middle, he created a statue of Mary crushing a bottle and syringe below her toes. For a church he made a statue of the Irish martyr St. Oliver Plunkett which represented the second earlier than he was hanged, drawn and quartered. On the banks of the River Liffey in Dublin, his statue, “The Linesman”, pays homage to the town’s dockworkers.

Mac Manus’ work will also be seen in the US. He created a bust of Pope Benedict XVI for St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York. In Washington, 4 of his statues might be discovered on the Catholic Info Middle, together with “St. Joseph and the Baby Jesus. He aimed to make the saint each macho and tender, carrying his carpentry instruments whereas cuddling the child Jesus.

“It’s one of the vital common sculptures I’ve ever performed as a result of it actually touches folks,” he mentioned. “With him, I attempted to answer the paternity disaster, one of many main crises of up to date tradition. I spent 10 years working in downtown tasks with underprivileged youngsters, principally guys. And there, I spotted the disaster – excessive time. “

Earlier than sculpting, Mac Manus spends weeks researching the topic and sketching out design concepts. Whereas making the piece, he attends mass and spends time in prayer earlier than the sculpture every day.

Mac Manus believes that each one artwork is the overflow of the artist’s inside life, so if he grows in a deeper understanding of God and creation, his artwork will mirror this.

He mentioned his strategy sparked the creation of two colleges: the Irish Academy of Figurative Artwork in Dublin, which has since closed, and the Sacred Artwork Faculty in Florence.

“The colleges that I based, I did not actually discover them (deliberately),” he mentioned. “Mainly the native artists pushed me to provide courses and people courses grew and grew. They weren’t pleased with what they received of their colleges, that are excellent colleges, however they did not have all of the fundamentals.

A number of of his college students have grow to be Catholics.

Mac Manus not too long ago moved to the US to marry an American, Christine, and so they settled close to St. James Church in Falls Church as a result of he believes Northern Virginia is the right place to begin a brand new college and liturgical arts studio.

The realm has a vibrant Catholic neighborhood and is near the Washington Nationwide Gallery of Artwork, which permits artists to attract and paint the classics on show. He plans to coach highschool college students for a similar purpose he enjoys working with tender clay – it’s simply moldable.

“I cope with highschool college students as a result of they’re extra open, they’re extra excited concerning the visible arts and the nice masters,” he mentioned. “I’m attempting to create a military of artists to serve Christ.”

Mac Manus believes that artists have a particular capability to evangelize by way of their work, creating not solely magnificent artwork, but in addition easy-to-consume catechesis.

He feels that stunning church buildings and liturgies will strengthen the church and, in flip, convey tradition again to Christ.

“Magnificence has the facility to pierce the guts and produce with it fact and goodness,” he mentioned, quoting Pope Benedict XVI. “This sentence actually sums up the entire mission of artwork within the arms of the Christian.”

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Maraist is editor of the Arlington Catholic Herald, newspaper for the Diocese of Arlington.

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