Regis College's new homes welcomes its first art show

By 
  • March 19, 2010
{mosimage}TORONTO - Artist Catherine Crowe stood quietly, contemplating three of fellow painter Galina Oussatcheva's icons hanging in the lobby of Regis College, and then pronounced, "These are spectacular."

In front of another stretch of wall Jesuit scholastic Trevor Scott was inspecting sculptor Farhad Nargol-O'Neill's 14 compressed and complex stations of the cross, and was very pleased.

"You could spend a long time in front of these, contemplating," said the first-year Master of Divinity student.

Nargoll-O'Neill and Oussatcheva's contrasting works form two halves of Devotio Moderna, the first art show to hang in the new Regis College, the Jesuit graduate school of theology at the University of Toronto. The show opened March 17.

By bringing together Eastern and Western artistic approaches to Christianity, the  college is continuing a tradition of exploring the power of art in spirituality that is heavily identified with Jesuit founder St. Ignatius of Loyola, said Fr. Gilles Mongeau, the show's organizer.

"It's part of a long and venerable tradition of conversation with art," Mongeau said.

Art exhibitions have been part of Regis College tradition dating back to the mid-1960s when Jesuit art history professor Fr. Peter Larisey organized the first show at the old Regis College in Willowdale. Larisey continued the annual shows when Regis moved to a downtown building just off Yonge Street in the 1970s. With the new building, Mongeau takes over the curatorial role and has also promoted a series of occasional Masses for artists which also incorporate artistic works in the liturgy.

Oussatcheva urged viewers to remember that her works are no less art because they are religious, and no less religious because they are art.

In honour of the St. Patrick's Day opening of the show, Nargoll-O'Neill showered blessings and thanks on the gallery goers in Irish Gaelic.

As a student of the college, Scott was grateful for the sight of thoughtful, challenging contemporary art on the walls.

"It's almost like the building is finished now. It's beautiful," he said.

The show will remain at Regis  through the Doors Open Toronto event May 29 and 30. Doors Open celebrates Toronto architecture and invites people to tour a variety of significant buildings from private homes to institutional buildings.

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