View the Image Slideshow for Catherine Kapikian's Work (Opens a new window).
I am a site-specific artist whose commissioned works are created for chancels, sanctuaries, church chapels, narthexes, fellowship halls, military base chapels, and other religious spaces. I take seriously the context in which I work (scale, sight-lines, volumes, voids, surface textures, colors, value differentiations, etc.), thinking my work should enhance what is rather than compete with what is. I prefer to design work that congregational members fabricate (make), thereby enabling the work to become the work of the people through a process I call participatory aesthetics. And through an ongoing educational process, the congregation also discovers a deep correspondence between creative processing and spiritual formation. In every instance of this kind of work, in particular large scale and complex works, congregational life is not only enhanced but also grows in numbers. While the latter fact is not a reason to participate in such a venture, community life does flourish. People take pride in the work they produce with their hands. Thus, the craftsmanship of the works fabricated is stunning.
Catherine Kapikian is founder and director emeritus of the Henry Luce III Center for the Arts and Religion at Wesley Theological Seminary (WTS) in Washington, DC. She is Distinguished Artist-in-Residence at WTS, where she teaches, responds to invitational lectures and workshops, and designs commissioned works. Currently, she is engaged in commissioning processes with Pullen Baptist Church, Raleigh, North Carolina; West Chapel, University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland.; Northwestern University’s Divinity School, Evanston, Illinois.; Wilson Chapel, Andover Newton Theological School, Newton Centre, Massachusetts; and is completing the design for the Gerald R. Ford presidential kneeler for the Washington National Cathedral, Washington, DC. She authored Art in Service of the Sacred published by Abingdon Press in 2006.
Photos by Catherine Kapikian