Christ’s Self-Offering, the Heavenly City, Mother Elizabeth Ann Seton
Seton Catholic Preparatory High School - Chandler, Arizona
Project Timeline: Winter 2020
Christ's Eternal Sacrifice and Mary, Mediatrix of All Grace
St. Mary's High School - Phoenix, Arizona
Project Timeline: Winter 2016
To celebrate its centennial year in 2017, St. Mary's High School, under the leadership of President Rector Fr. Robert Bolding, commissioned an altar mural for its school masses held in its gymnasium. The mural is painted in the format of a high-quality theatrical backdrop that can be rolled and unrolled, transported and stored as needed, which is highly-versatile for a multi-functional space such as a gym. It measures 20' wide and 25' high, and features Christ Crucified and ascended to Glory with Mary, Queen of Heaven at the center of the restored cosmos, surrounded by adoring angels, reminiscent of the cherubim of the Arc of the Covenant in the Old Testament. Mary is the perfect, sinless vessel and new tabernacle of Christ. It is painted in a style heavily influenced by the Beuronese School with elements of both Eastern and Western liturgical art tradition - more stylized figures, yet more realistic faces.
A suggestion of the Temple and the Holy of Holies is seen behind the figure of Christ, as Christ is the new Temple, and one can also see the torn veil represented in red to show the sacrifice, the tearing of his own body, signifying the end to Old Testament sacrifice and the beginning of worship in spirit and truth. The blood and water pour from his side, which is the birth of the church, and the streams of living water flow out, as in the vision of Revelation, nourishing the garden of the heavenly Jerusalem, the restored Garden of Eden, and all the subjects in the kingdom of heaven.
Mary is depicted alone at the foot of the cross, for she was bound to Christ in a singular way and suffered with him like no other. She is shown in the garments and posture of the Immaculate Conception, yet she also wears the dark cloak of Our Lady of Guadalupe, suggesting that she is with child. She stands as the woman in Genesis, with her foot on the head of the serpent and her head crowned with 12 stars. As the heavenly Jerusalem has 12 gates, she is the gateway to the graces of Christ. The stylized palm trees, plants and flowers evoke a restored Garden of Eden. As our first mother, Eve, led to the fall of all mankind, Mary’s willingness to participate with God’s grace led to the restoration of humanity and the undoing of the Fall through Christ’s sacrifice. She is the new Eve, standing at the foot of the new Tree of Life, the Cross.
The saints featured are St. Junipero Serra, St. John Paul II, and St. Agnes on the left, with St. Catherine of Siena, St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Francis of Assisi on the right. Each is holding an object symbolic of their ministry on earth or martyrdom, which helps identify them in sacred art representations.
The River of Life
Xavier College Preparatory High School - Phoenix, Arizona
Project Timeline: 2008 - 2010
In 2008, while a full-time employee of Xavier College Preparatory Roman Catholic High School in Phoenix, Ruth was approached by Fr. John Muir, the chaplain. His vision, and the vision of the Principal, Sr. Joan Fitzgerald, BVM, and the Vice Principal, Sr. Joanie Nuckols, BVM, was to create some kind of sacred image for the school masses, which were held in the gym to accommodate the entire student body. The space, as it was, lacked a sense of the sacred. Over the course of the next year, Ruth began to study the rich heritage of sacred art in the Catholic Church as she worked on the murals, a series of three that would depict the vision of the Heavenly Jerusalem given to John in Revelation. This would start her on a path to becoming Catholic, as well as devoting her life to studying and creating works of sacred art for the purpose of the liturgy. The murals are 24 feet high and span a width of 60 feet. New lighting was incorporated to focus on the sanctuary and mural while dimming the rest of the space as well as a mechanism for raising and lowering the murals in order to convert the gymnasium easily for mass.