Donated art centerpiece in Pax Christi’s cross exhibit

| Bridget Ryder | March 14, 2016 | 0 Comments
“Christ and the Cross II,” a painting by the late Malcolm Myers that was donated to Pax Christi in Eden Prairie, is part of the parish’s Lenten cross exhibit through March 27.  Courtesy Pax Christi

“Christ and the Cross II,” a painting by the late Malcolm Myers that was donated to Pax Christi in Eden Prairie, is part of the parish’s Lenten cross exhibit through March 27. Courtesy Pax Christi

Crosses come in many different shapes and sizes. At Pax Christi in Eden Prairie, there are at least 40 different crosses, many of them gathered into an exhibit intended to help parishioners pray during Lent.

The parish’s annual Lenten practice has a special centerpiece this year — “Christ and the Cross II,” a painting by the late Malcolm Myers, professor emeritus at the University of Minnesota and an internationally renown artist. Myers died in 2002.

“We hope [the exhibit] gives [people] an opportunity for some quiet time and to reflect on something spiritual,” said Cari Stein, a parishioner and member of the art committee.

The crosses are part of a collection the parish started in 2001 from a memorial gift. Normally, they hang in specific rooms throughout the building. But each year during Lent, they are gathered in the Martin Luther King Jr. Room to help parishioners meditate and reflect.

“Each one has a different story and was specifically selected for the room it was chosen for,” Stein explained.

Crosses from the preschool rooms have bright colors and clear images, while the cross for the Sojourner Truth Room symbolizes her faith and struggle for freedom with a rose encircled with barbed wire. A unique cross shows Jesus reaching down with one arm to offer a dove. Over the years, more crosses, many the artwork of parishioners, have been given to the church.

A wooden “Mercy Cross” made by Sister Mary Ann Osborne, a School Sister of Notre Dame, and designed with input from high school students from the parish, also is part of the exhibit and will be added to the parish’s collection.

At the opening of the cross room in early March, the Malcolm Myers Estate donated “Christ and the Cross II.” The artist had been a Guggenheim Fellow and worked with artist Diego Rivera in Mexico. His works hang in the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., and other museums. Best known for his colorful depictions of jazz musicians, he did a series of four paintings of Jesus with the cross near the end his career. “Christ and the Cross II” has Christ as the central figure facing the viewer directly. Christ, head bent, holds the cross above his shoulders while life moves on behind him. A pair of ducks, a favorite motif of Myers, scurry away on the right. “Christ and the Cross II” has never been displayed before, nor have any of the others in the series.

According to Myers’ wife, Marilyn Myers, the paintings were inspired by an old picture she had received. Likely one of the Stations of the Cross from an old church, it stated “Christ is laden with the cross” at the bottom. Myers had it repaired for his wife and then began to paint his own versions.

“He said he thought these pictures would be some of his strongest works,” Marilyn said.

Sister Mary Ann’s Mercy Cross, a processional cross, was debuted and blessed at a Lenten prayer service March 11. The cross is destined for the youth formation room and to be used at youth liturgies. Six youth from the parish met with Sister Mary Ann at her Mankato studio to discuss the design. In the piece, Christ is holding out his arms and is surrounded by the symbols of love, baptism and new life — represented by fire, water and leaves. The words “God is here” and “mercy” are carved into the back so that they can be seen during a procession.

Providentially, Sister Mary Ann said, she started working on the piece Dec. 8, the opening day of the Year of Mercy.

The exhibit runs through March 27 at the parish, 12100 Pioneer Trail, Eden Prairie.

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Category: Holy Week/Easter