A new painting at St. Stanislaus depicts one of the stations of the cross, the crucifixion. The new set of sacred art was a collaboration between artists Sarah Crow and Tomasz Misztal. (Courtesy Sarah Crow)
A new painting at St. Stanislaus depicts one of the stations of the cross, the crucifixion. The new set of sacred art was a collaboration between artists Sarah Crow and Tomasz Misztal. (Courtesy Sarah Crow)
St. Stanislaus Parish celebrated Christmas this year with a special gift, a new collection of paintings depicting the Stations of the Cross. The paintings were a collaboration between artists Sarah Crow and Tomasz Misztal. Each of the pieces measures 18 by 24 inches. They were done in oil paints on linen. Archbishop Alexander Sample celebrated the Christmas Mass at the parish, allowing him to be one of the first witnesses of parish’s new sacred art.

At the start of their endeavor, the artists agreed that they wanted each of the paintings to dramatize a moment of the way of the cross. This was a decision made so that each station on its own would be a vehicle for prayer and meditation, in addition to being part of the greater Passion story.

“To this end, we employed various strategies such as zooming in on some scenes while featuring more traditional points of view in others,” said Crow, an artist from Chicago that teaches at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

“The most visually determining factor in our work was the fact of our collaboration and the concept to combine two different artistic styles to represent the contrast between the Holy people - Christ, the Blessed Virgin Mary, John, and Mary - and the other characters and environments,” she added. The artist added that she’s unaware of other Stations of the Cross that have used the concept with two artists.

Misztal, an artist from the local Catholic community, painted more directly and expressionistically, while the figures in Crow’s paintings were inspired by Baroque painting. Crow added that she used quotations from other sacred art pieces.

“For example, the Corpus on the Crucifixion is very similar to the one in Pompeo Batoni’s 1762 Crucifixion. You have to look closely to see some of the ways that I intentionally changed the body in our Crucifixion,” she said.

The painters did not only draw influence from the actions recreated in the Stations but also their setting.

“The city of Jerusalem was an indelible influence on our work. We tried to bring as much color, texture and feel of the city into our paintings as we could,” said Crow.

Archbishop Sample praised the new art, telling parishioners how proud they should be to have such beautiful works adorning their walls.

“There aren’t many churches anywhere that have anything as beautiful for stations of the cross,” he said. “They’re incredible. I look at each one, meditated on each one. Each one has its own unique message somehow.”

The archbishop noted that it may seem strange to be blessing a set of the Stations of the Cross on Christmas.

“It’s a reminder as to why he came,” he said.

“He came for this — what you see on the walls of your beautiful church. This is why he was born — to save us from our sin and death.”