CALGARY - Newlyweds Christopher and Jacinta Pecora met in 2008 at a friend’s pork roast. They hit it off after discovering their mutual interest in art, and their common Catholic faith solidified the connection.

Chris is a graphic designer and Jacinta is a print maker. This past summer, the 25-year-olds were married, a union filled with a love of art and strengthened by their mutual God-given artistic talents.

Both grew up creating art and pursued these passions in post-secondary education. Chris studied graphic design at the University of Lethbridge and Jacinta studied fine arts at the University of Calgary.

Art is “part of who we are, it’s a similarity that we can share, along with our faith,” Jacinta said.

Now that they are young professionals, they have begun to use their talents for the good of others and the Church.

Chris recently started his own graphic design company. At Chris Pecora Graphic Design, his clients are as diverse as a bike shop in San Francisco to a coffee company in Calgary. He also has a number of Catholic clients. He designs posters, graphics and logos for clients such as the diocese of Calgary, Catholic Christian Outreach and Clearwater Academy, a private Catholic school in Calgary.

But Chris finds that many Catholic organizations don’t prioritize on graphic design, so he ensures that he brands his designs in such a way that they appeal to Catholics and non-Catholics alike. By creating posters, ads and web sites that look both artistic and modern, Chris is able to endow these organizations with a competitive edge. For example, he designed promotional posters for FaithLife Conferences that happen every two months in the Calgary diocese. These eye-catching posters show what the conference is about without a preachy feeling.
Chris attributes his success to God.

“I feel like God is allowing me to do this,” he said. “I trust that what I’m making is from God.”

Chris thanks divine inspiration for his work.

“(The idea) starts as something from me and then working through it, suddenly these things that are way smarter than me kind of just appear.”

Jacinta, instead of working with organizations, works with individuals. As a facilitator at Prospect, a human services organization in Calgary, she teaches adults with developmental disabilities different forms of art such as painting, printmaking, sculpture, photography and drawing. She is required to look for moments throughout the day to help teach her students life skills and set goals so they can eventually be employed.

Jacinta turns to the grace of God to help her be patient with the sometimes-challenging behaviours that her clients exhibit.

“It’s not a daily struggle for me to go through my day, whereas for some of them it’s a physical struggle or for some of them it’s a mental struggle,” she said.

In turn, her students teach her to be more appreciative of her life.

“I am grateful for what God has blessed me with,” she said.

In pursuing her own art, Jacinta allows God to inspire and direct her.

“I get really nervous every time I make something. Every new project is a little bit intimidating,” she said. So she prays. “If I didn’t, I would be so nervous I wouldn’t be able to do it.”

Jacinta’s medium is a traditional form of printmaking called etching. She creates art to express herself and experiences she has had.

The fact that both she and her husband are artists helps them to understand and encourage each other in a deeper way, with both their art and their faith.

Two years ago, Jacinta worked with the Sisters of Charity in Calcutta. They inspired her to create prints based on this experience, and Chris encouraged her with ideas on how to create significant art from this faith-based trip.

The couple also create art together to inspire others, and their collaboration brings them closer together. To a close friend of theirs who recently was ordained to the priesthood, Chris and Jacinta gave a quote from Pope Benedict XVI burnt into wood.

“It makes the whole process of creating less daunting just to know that I have someone I can talk to about these ideas,” Chris said, “because art is a very personal thing, you have to be vulnerable, but I have my wife and I can tell her.”

For both Christopher and Jacinta, the type of work they do is dictated by their faith.

“I’ve turned down work that is not in line with my faith, if what the client is asking me to do isn’t really congruent with my beliefs,” Chris said.

“We can have these discussions so that things that we create would never go against our morals, and we can support each other in that,” said Jacinta.

They are working in the world, but according to Jacinta their mutual understanding and faith “keeps us accountable and in check about how we want to live and have people see our work.”

They keep in mind the letter Pope John Paul II wrote to artists in 1999.

“(Our work) should always glorify God one way or another,” Chris said paraphrasing the Pope. “It is a positive, hopeful Catholic perspective.”

The letter also states that God created man and woman in His own image, for each other, and then sent them to create not only in the familial sense, but also in the other vocations they are called to. So through their work with Catholic and humanitarian organizations, Chris and Jacinta abide by John Paul II’s request to “not to waste this talent but to develop it, in order to put it at the service of their neighbour and of humanity as a whole.”

Published in Youth Speak News