KANSAS, Gtpministries.org – In 2020, a defining moment came for Karr, a 2019 University of Kansas illustration graduate. At that time, Karr found herself at the crossroads between a career as a marketing professional and her true calling.
However, the situation changed after Karr met Father Anthony Oulette from the Holy Name of Jesus Christ Parish, Archdiocese of Kansas. During the meeting, Father Oulette expressed his ideas about renovating the parish church and plans to add various works of art to the church.
“He took me to the church, presented his ideas for renovating the church,” Karr recalled.
During the meeting, Father Oulette said he planned to place paintings of Pentecost, the Virgin Mary and St. Michael. Not only that, the painting of St. Joseph who presented Jesus in the Temple will also be made with an Angel Gabriel ornament on it.
In September 2022, Karr left work and began his career in religious art. At that time, Karr worked entirely for the parish church. Her journey, marked by faith and courage, has been a testament to the power of art in revitalizing not only spaces, but also spirits.
“I love Jesus so much and I know that He is real,” Karr said.
But that leap of faith is slowly starting to be proven. When Karr needed visual references for the figures in the art, he and Father Oulette decided to ask parishioners to volunteer.
When they wanted to create an image of the Blessed Virgin Mary, they thought of the same parishioner, Mary Leticia DeCaigny. Karr asked DeCaigny to be a model when he finished painting the Virgin Mary. Karr took a photo of DeCaigny in costume for reference. He discovered there was a deeper connection with DeCaigny.
DeCaigny and her husband lost their 8-year-old son after a five-year battle with cancer.
“He said, ‘We lost our son to cancer about 10 years ago, so I know what it’s like to walk with our suffering son. I feel very close to DeCaigny and this is confirmation that he sees me and he is with me,’” Karr recalled DeCaigny saying.
This influenced Karr’s view of this art project. He participated in this painting, and collecting models, but Karr realized this work was much bigger than him.
“There’s no way I would have known that, at first, I chose him because I liked his hair (DeCaigny- ed. ). I didn’t know that his past experiences were actually related to Our Lady. So that’s a great blessing.”
With this experience, Karr sees his hard work as not only a work of art, but it is truly something that has an impact on the people involved in it. He also hopes that this experience will have an impact on people who will see the results of his artistic work for years to come.
It took Three Years
Previously, Karr had big dreams of having a career in Hollywood. However, now he is actually planting spiritual seeds in the work he does.
“I could almost be a Catholic evangelist spy,” he said.
Karr enjoyed his time living in Kansas and loved the parish where he had just completed his assignment. It took three years to complete all the artwork which was then installed in the parish church.
He created two 15-foot paintings that bring color and warmth to both sides of the Church of the Holy Name of Jesus Christ in Kansas City. Apart from that, there are other paintings he made.
“As my faith grew, I couldn’t help it. The art just came out and it’s all religious, mostly Mary. I couldn’t stop drawing Mary,” he said.
A major shift occurred when he made his retreat. Some people also admit that God called Karr to do something. One call he then responded bravely and stepped out.
“It was very clear He wanted me to jump,” he said.
A week later, he did just that, quit his job in sales, and began his full-time career as an artist.
Karr painted and drew sacred and liturgical art and depicted deeply meaningful spiritual themes. Now, after he gave up and decided to become an artist with religious themes, he said that life has become much easier.
“It doesn’t seem that difficult. I respect my religion. It’s much more liberating.”
Karr recalled his encounter with Father Oulette. The priest said he had the ability to paint a Christian icon.
“Your spirituality is like that of an icon painter,” Karr said, imitating Father Oulette’s words.
When the works of art had been completed which carried the theme of the descent of the Holy Spirit and the appearance of Jesus, the installation of these works was carried out before Easter. It is hoped that this moment will attract the attention of the congregation and invite them to reflect on the unique message conveyed by the Holy Spirit to each community.
Admittedly, Karr’s work stands as a bridge between the divine and the mundane, capturing the essence of faith in a way that cannot be expressed in words. Through his brush, Karr allows parishioners to see not only their faces, but also their stories.
The completion of this painting was not only a moment of artistic achievement for Karr, but also a celebration of faith for the parish community. In an often divided world, this project serves as a beacon of unity, showing how art can bring people together.
Pray Before Work
Now, after completing a religious artwork for the Church of the Holy Name of Jesus, Karr is receiving many requests for artwork on similar themes. As Karr worked to develop a commissioned work, he prayed with them, and asked the Holy Spirit to reveal what the work would look like for them.
One time, Karr got a project from a family where the wife was a mental health counselor. The client had recurring dreams about Mary dressed in work clothes, diligently untying a long ribbon that shone in the light falling over her shoulders.
From that story, Karr started working on it. Karr said that even though the image is created for one client, it often moves others to tears, even if they previously knew nothing about this traditional depiction of Mary.
“I have seen how God can speak through these images. Beauty has the quality of stopping people in their tracks and making them take notice,” he said. (AES)