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Monastery Studio at Saint Vincent, 1963-1968

View of Roman's monastery studio from 1963 to 1968.
Before the 1963 fire this area served as the tailor shop where monastic garments were made for the monks. The tailors made both daily wear for the monks as well as "cucullas", celebratory black garments  with 72 pleats. Thee were worn by Priests and Monks in solemn vows  on special liturgical feast days. 

    Click for a personal account of departure from cloister


New City Series (1961-1968)

 Kennedy Memorial, One Year. 1964
 Water color and crayon on paper.
 22" by 22"
 Location Unknown.
 Image from Catalogue cover
 Greensburg show in 1965

This painting created as a first year memorial of the Kennedy assassination  is one of several that relate to national events of the period such as the church bombing at Birmingham Alabama in 1963 (below). 

 Letter to Birmingham, 1963
 36" by 60"
 acrylic, crayon, gesso on wood.
 Saint Vincent Archabbey

These works were statements of hope for conflict resolution at a time when the United Sates experienced deep unrest with protest over the Vietnam war, racial conflict and radical changes in social mores.  An excerpt from a 1964 Statement identifies the relationship between Roman's  painting and his artistic intentions during the period from 1963-1968: 


My paintings are not assertions of a kind of "knowing"; they exhibit no conclusions. I discover myself being here within a process. My works are human marks to celebrate my growing and living within this process.

We are making (around ourselves by human gesture, marks, building) extensions of our living and being here. These celebrate the hope of our living and growing: the neon flickers; the bill-board leaps in landscape; telephone-booth markings reveal us. Our part in making this complex, giant, ever emerging, and changing landscape is where we "see" a true sign of our hope. Sometimes it is painful to see the poverty of our hope written in this landscape. Through painting I project color and add a human mark to this environment-landscape.

We think things out and our logic fails us; we have marvelous feelings and emotional leaps; we follow them and they too leave us incomplete. My paintings are spontaneous emotion; they are also calculated precision; they search to resolve oppositions in a visual dialogue; they are born from the belief that we are growing to a great love that will resolve the ambiguous and deliver us to Peace.

(Quoted from the Catalogue of  his 1995 exhibition at  the Westmoreland County Museum of Art, Greensburg, Pennsylvania

The New City, ca 1966
(orange yellow Version)
36" by 36". 
acrylic, crayon, gesso on wood.
Saint Vincent Archabbey

Mural, "Elle passe, la figure de ce monde (The face of this world is passing)"
1967, ca. 20 ft by 7.5 ft
acrylic & crayon on white wall. Private home, Pittsburgh, PA. This is one of several versions executed between 1966-68 in the Washington DC and Pittsburgh areas. Sites included exhibitions and private homes. This version is the only known extant version in (July  2002).

   
Mural, "Elle passe, la figure de ce monde (The face of this world is passing)"
1967, ca. 20 ft by 9 ft
acrylic
private home.
   

Concrete Castings, St. Vincent Monastery

Concrete Castings in New Monastery (1966-1967). The monastery, devastated by fire in 1963, was rebuilt and dedicated in 1967. Tasso Katselas, the architect for this project, came up with the idea of capturing brush strokes in concrete. He suggested that Roman create molds by using hot irons to burn strokes into thick sheets of styrofoam.  In close collaboration with the archtect , Roman created about 30 steel reinforced concrete castings. These castings, imbedded in load bearing walls of the new monastery bear testimony to the creative mind of the architect  and a vibrant collaborating community of monks at St. Vincent in the 1960's.

Above: Brother 1966-1967. Reinforced concrete casting. 8 feet by 8 feet, Depth: c. 12". Load bearing wall, Archabbot's conference room, St. Vincent Archabbey, Latrobe, PA, USA

 

Above left to right: (1) Brush strokes served as model, (2) Styrofoam mold with drawing of strokes, (3-4) Stages in shaping styrofoam mold. Technique employed hot irons to simulate brush strokes in the mold. (5) finished casting after mold is removed, 1967. (Click on images for larger view) 

Above: Examples of smaller castings imbedded in walls inside the monastery at various sites. Texts and phrases were chosen by members of the community.


Psalms in Sound and Image, 1967-1968. 

In1967 Roman prepared a presentation of electronically synchronized sounds and images for a spiritual retreat. His first experimental piece included a sound track by Lucia Dlogoszewski and slides he composed from his own drawings and photos. He used Kodak synchronizers with a Wollensack sound system with two parallel slide projectors.


Slide prep from drawings


   Gallery presentation, 1967

Experiencing the power of  emerging new media he set out to create a serious work consisting of four 15 minute units, "The Psalms in Sound and Image". Sound tracks included original compositions by Daniel Lenz, Rembert Weakland,  and Ignatius Purta.  Daniel Lenz  had been a student of  Rembert Weakland in his college years. 

These drawings,are shown here in a sequence suggestive of the original timing.

These slides are from the archives of the original drawings. Four 15 minute units included original sound tracks with slide sequences composed of drawings, words, and photo collages.

NOTE: This file is a GIF file containing a series of images. Some imaging software may not properly read the sequence.

Roman's psalms were created as 20th Century songs of praise and wonder of the experience of life. Collage photos along with drawings and brief texts flashed in sequences on two screens and timed with original sound tracks. These works, highly evocative,  were often  presented in the context of spiritual retreats.  The show was also shipped with its equipment for presentation in diverse contexts including a traveling gallery show with related drawings.

Above: Detail from a "doodle" used for the back of the program for the
 "Psalms".
Click for back of a program printed in blue.

Right: Trunk that was used for shipping the audio visual equipment. Roman painted it to have the spirit of a show. Click for larger image.


Tennesseee Notebook as the Fifteenth Station

Jubilee was a liberal Catholic Journal that presented the cutting edge of theology, art, and literature of the church in the U.S. in the 1960's.  Its staff included vibrant Catholic thinkers inncluding brilliant young poets like Ned O Gorman.

For their 1968 Easter Issue the editors planned to address the theology of Resurrection. They invited Roman to create an art work for a Fifteenth Station on Resurrection for the  Way of the Cross.  The traditional "Way of the Cross",  the via crucis, marks 14 stations for meditating on the sufferings of Jesus along the way to the crucifixion.  This traditional devotion does not include the Resurrection. In 1968 the Jubilee editors wanted to add a "Fifteenth Station"  for "Resurrection" and rebirth as a special feature.

Page from my "Tennessee Notebook" as published by Jubilee in 1968. These illustrations drew on experiences in my 1968 January lecture tour  experience with contrasting social milieus in Tennessee. This tour provided the ground wherein I finally came to make life changing decisions that were a kind of personal resurrection for myself.  For some time I had endured a spiritual "dark night" as I challenged myself to make a radical change in my life journey. During this tour I found myself springing free to embrace a  life beyond the cloister.  For me Jubilee's  "Fifteenth Station"  marked the transition that led me to an everyday working world  enriched with frequent excursions into nature's sanctuary. In the past 43 years this change helped me find a more mature relationship to nature, to myself and to others.

 Roman, 2011   Click for PDF file Jubilee illustrations

 

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