BOSTON, MA.- The Rt. Rev. M. Thomas Shaw, SSJE, Bishop of The Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts announced the selection of artist Donald Lipski to complete the long-unfinished pediment of the Cathedral Church of St. Paul at 138 Tremont St, in Boston, as part of major renovation plans in celebration of the 100th anniversary of its dedication as the diocesan cathedral. Lipskis proposal incorporates a non-traditional sculpture depicting a cross-section of a chambered nautilus placed against a blue field, to be dramatically lit at night. The installation of the sculpture is planned to coincide with the rededication and celebration of the 100th anniversary as the diocesan Cathedral on October 7, 2012. The projected budget for the pediment sculpture is integrated into a major comprehensive campaign by the Diocese for the Cathedral renovation and a number of other programs.
The pediment has been empty since the buildings completion in 1820. St. Pauls occupies an important location, fronting the Boston Common, the nations oldest park. The churchs original founders commissioned Alexander Parris and Solomon Willard in 1818 to construct a building that embodied the new nations democratic ideals. From that vision came the Church of St. Paul, the citys first Greek revival building, consecrated in 1820. Its dedication as a cathedral took place in 1912, making it the only Greek revival cathedral in North America.
Donald Lipski is an internationally recognized artist specializing in public art projects. His career spans over 30 years and includes major works in many cities across America. A resident of Philadelphia, Lipski states, As an artist, I feel great responsibility for every sculpture I place in the public sphere. However, this particular project calls upon every aspect of my creative force and I welcome such an exciting challenge.
Bishop Shaw noted, We are doing something bold and extraordinary with the front of our cathedral church because what God has given us to share with the world in Jesus Christ is bold and extraordinary. This sculpture is a major contribution to the public art life of Boston, and it is also a profound one, because the simple beauty of it conveys complex symbolism broadly to anyone passing by, while also being deeply Christian in the way it draws us into the mystery and creativity of the Divine. Im especially proud of our cathedral church for doing the work of Jesus Christ, feeding the hungry and welcoming the stranger, and now our façade will invite everyone into the beauty of that.
Conscious of its place in contemporary society and the role of the Cathedral as a house of prayer for all people, the Dioceses call to artists sought to elicit a bold and dramatic proclamation about the mission of St. Pauls, using the language of 21st century sculptural form. The Diocese hoped to identify an artist capable of expressing the mission of the church and its contemporary role as a welcoming institution for all without relying on traditional iconography. Lipski's beautiful and visionary proposal is utterly consistent with St. Paul's longstanding ministry to invite people into the mystery of Christ and echoes Jesus' invitation to followers to come and see, said The Very Reverend John P. Streit, Jr., Dean.
The artist selection process was led by the UrbanArts Institute at Massachusetts College of Art and Design. The selection panel convened members of the wider diocese as well as experts in contemporary art and sculpture. The national call drew a pool of over 140 artists from which four finalists were selected to develop proposals. Lipski was the clear and unanimous recommendation of the committee.