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Julie Lonneman divides her time between Bellingham, Washington, and Cincinnati, Ohio. She has extensive experience in publication design, having served for many years as an art director for Franciscan Media (then St. Anthony Messenger Press). She currently freelances as a graphic designer and illustrator. Julie is also an accomplished printmaker.

Julie was asked to reflect on her work for the final issue of Celebration. This excerpt from her article also serves as her artist's statement for the work on this site:

Art feeds the soul and makes us human

“I can do things you cannot, you can do things I cannot. Not all of us can do great things But we can do small things with great love.”

 

A scrap of paper with these encouraging thoughts, attributed to Teresa of Calcutta, lived on my studio wall for many years. I love making art and love the community that I serve through it. Yet at times, thinking of everyone else doing the heavy lifting, the “real” work of the world, I have doubted my calling. 

On his deathbed, St. Francis of Assisi freed his brothers—and me—by saying, “I have done what was mine to do, may Christ now teach you what you are to do.” I am incapable of being another Mother Teresa or Francis, but I can draw. So that is what I do.

Art can seem superfluous, but that doesn’t mean it is not essential. Even our ancient ancestors made time in their brief, harsh lives to decorate their tools, containers and bodies. Art feeds the soul. It is part of what makes us human.

Incarnation is a hallmark of Christian belief, and art is one of the ways God’s presence is enfleshed. Art has the power to bring us to our senses. At the same time, by grounding us in the present moment, much like attending a musical performance or spending time in nature, an encounter with art has the potential to be profoundly spiritual. For me, a visit to the art museum can be as inspiring as any worship service.

With deep humility, I recognize that the human and divine come together when I make art. Through what my brain, my eyes and my hand create, I sense there is more. My best work happens when I can relax a bit, let go and let God.

Originally published in the July 2019 issue of Celebration. Julie Lonneman provided cover art and Lectionary graphics for nearly 20 years for Celebration, the monthly worship resource for the National Catholic Reporter.