August 10, 2010

Image as Insight: Joseph O'Connell's Work

This week Baya Clare introduces us to the multi-talented artist, Joseph O'Connell.

Joe O'Connell was a sculptor, print maker, photographer, artist-in-residence and teacher at the College of St. Benedict and St. John's University from 1962 to 1995.

I first encountered his work on a visit to the College of St. Benedict in St. Joseph, Minnesota shortly before he died of cancer at age 68 in 1995. He was working on his last piece, a three-part sculpture of Christ's triumphal entry into Jerusalem and a Benedictine sister took me to his studio to see it.

The piece had been commissioned by Christ the King Catholic Community in Las Vegas, Nevada. Seven years later, on a road trip to Los Angeles, I took a detour through Las Vegas to see it. Unfortunately I did not take any photos of it, nor, alas, can I find any decent ones anywhere online.

I do encourage anyone visiting there to take the time to go look at it ─ and take pictures! (It's outside on the plaza just in front of the entrance to the church building.) The figure riding into town on the donkey has the most beautiful, peaceful face of Christ I have ever seen.

O'Connell had a distinct style and once you've seen his work, you'll recognize it anywhere. For more information, check out this book: Divine Favor: The Art of Joseph O'Connell.

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