The Chapel of Christ the King Erin Werstuik Kayla Lord Jen Grisnik
What We Saw:
Old wooden pews
Textures and patterns
path connecting panels
What We Heard:
Wind blowing outside
Someone playing the piano
What We Felt:
Hard floor v. soft carpet
Cold stone altar
What We Smelled:
Dim throughout chapel
Highlights on certain parts of the mural
Dark near the walls
Who painted the mural and when?
How long did it take to create?
What do all of the symbols, people, and colors mean?
Is it one big story or multiple little stories?
Who, when, and how long?
The Rambusch Co. in NY painted the mural in the 1930s. It is a liturgical company that rebuilds, remodels, creates stained glass, and paints murals for churches.
What do the Images Symbolize?
The Nun Scenes:
Nun with a soldier represents the hospital ministry of the Sisters of Mercy. They worked in hospitals and cared for the soldiers in the wars in England in the 1800s. They founded the Mercy hospitals. She is wearing a white habit because white was the traditional color for hospital workers. It also represents purity.
The cannons and the ship further represent the hospital ministry and the Sisters’ contribution to caring for the soldiers in war.
Nun with a little girl represents the teaching ministry of the Sisters of Mercy. She is wearing a black and white habit because it was the traditional color for walking sisters. They were out on the streets with children and homeless people- black shows the least dirt.
The building is the original house of the Sisters of Mercy on Baggot St. in Dublin.
The Church Leaders
Bishop John Mark Gannon (Right side) was bishop when the Sisters of Mercy came to the Erie Diocese.
Pope Clemens (Left side) was Pope when the Sisters of Mercy was founded. He is holding the charter for the Sisters of Mercy order and the home church of the Sisters is sitting on top of the charter.
The Gospel Connections
The Nativity and scene of Jesus with Pilate represent different stages of Jesus’ life and the connection to the Gospels.
The angels represent divine presence, divine connection, and divine protection in artwork.
Is Everything Connected?
It is one whole interconnected mural that conveys the story of the connection between the church and the Sisters of Mercy.
The mosaic was added later and represents the name “Christ the King Chapel.” Christ is shown in priestly garments because that is how he is traditionally depicted.
Who was the artist?
We discovered the company that hired the artist to paint the mural but we could not find the name of the artist.
How long did it take to paint the mural?
We could not find exact start and end dates for the project but we found out that it was completed in the 1930s.
Erin’s Personal Connections
Because I grew up in a Christian family, I was able to recognize some of the pictures such as the Nativity and the scene of Jesus with Pilate in the mural.
It reminded me of my church at home that has a huge stained glass cross behind the altar.
The mural also reminded me of the times in church when I was younger and would spend more time looking at the stained glass and artwork around the chapel than listening to the sermon.
Jen’s Personal Connections
I am a Catholic, so being in the chapel reminds me of Sunday masses with my family. The smells are familiar to me- they make me feel like I am in a church. The mural depicts Bible stories that are very familiar to me, so it reminds me of my religion and religious beliefs. The way that the mural is larger than life, and it can be hard to see the upper corners of it represent to me the way the God is all powerful, all knowing and ever-present.
Kayla’s Personal Connections:
Viewing the mural in the chapel reminds me of when I taught the preschoolers at the church youth group at home. My friend and I would teach the children the basic Bible stories and usually do an art project with them afterwards because it was their favorite activity. Each child would create a work of art and share it with the others students. We would then reflect on how each project connected to the story we read. A mural would have been another excellent way to encourage the children to work together on a work of art.
Learning to recognize smaller stories in a big story
Learning to use symbols and understand their meanings
Accepting and respecting different religions or belief systems
Perceiving is noticing the little details that make up the big picture
Activity Ideas for a Classroom
-The students could listen to a variety of music and select which music they feel best fits with the mural; the students could listen to music that was played in early church services in the chapel and compare it to more contemporary religious music.
-Students can learn about painting murals, and paint one of their own; students can learn about religious art work and create some of their own, to fit their own religious beliefs or a religion they are interested in learning more about.
-Draw, paint, or sculpt a symbol that means something to you. Share it with the class and explain the meaning of the symbol.
-Work with a partner to draw or paint your own mural. Be sure to include at least three different small pictures that fit into the one big story.
-Make a class mural. Have each student create his or her own image to fit into a bigger theme. Reflect on how each individual story is interconnected.
-Students could calculate the height of the ceiling using shadows; a discussion of fractions could result from the five panel approach (1/5 of the painting/scene is on each panel).
-Students can research the artist who painted the mural and learn about his/her life and other work; students can research the history of Mercyhurst College and connect it to the history of the mural
-Students could learn about how paint used to be made, and if it is now made in a more environmentally friendly way; students could look at the nature parts of the painting and compare them to nature they see outside their school
-The students could write the story they see being depicted in the pictures; the students could write a story to go with the mural created in their class (see Art section); the students could write a poem about how the mural and chapel make them feel
Links to Class Readings:
In the second paragraph of the 6th page, we found it important to remember that art requires the learner to use his or her imagination and creative perceptions to describe what they see and feel. (Maxine Greene)
“ We are surrounded by worthwhile things waiting to be discovered, to open what they have to offer,” (Booth). A lot of people go to church in that chapel every week and see the mural for an hour. Most of those people, however, do not know what the mural represents or means. Some also don’t understand the symbolism and history inside the work of art.
More Links to Class Readings
There is a connection to the first Maxine Greene reading, that one must bring personal experiences into his or her understanding of a work of art. By bringing religious background and knowledge, a person is able to appreciate the mural in a different way than a person with no religious background or knowledge.
In the second Maxine Greene article, she talks about being actively involved in the work of art and seeing the viewing of it as a cognitive journey. We saw a connection to this reading, too, because the mural raised many questions for us, which inspired us to do some research which helped us to arrive at a deeper understanding of the piece.
Art can tell stories
Art is historic
Art can represent a group
Art is symbolic
How the five panels are connected
The relationship between the mural and the history of the college
The relationship between the mural and the religious history of the college
Line of Inquiry:
How has the perception of the mural changed in relation to the college and the students since it was created in the 1930s and what has caused this change to take place?