By Alice Trimmer

Although today’s cultural scene offers an enormous variety of options to choose from, people sometimes become discouraged that so much of today’s artistic output seems nihilistic and demeaning to the human person. It is encouraging to realize that there are groups of smart and articulate people working on this very situation. In New York City, the Catholic Artists Society was formed in response to Pope Benedict XVI’s 2009 Address to Artists. On that occasion, the Holy Father called for artists to be “custodians of Beauty” and “heralds and witnesses of Hope for Humanity.” The CAC offers support for artists, media professionals, and those interested in the arts. In the few years since it has started, this new organization has seen an enormous and enthusiastic response from those working in the arts. This fall, they are sponsoring a lecture series on the theme “The Art of the Beautiful.” The lectures are co-sponsored by the Thomistic Institute and are held at the Catholic Center at New York University.

The September speaker was Gregory Wolfe, editor of Image Journal. Starting with a discussion of the 32,000-year-old Chavaux cave paintings, he treated the audience to a tour of key examples from art history that show how the pursuit of beauty is its own pathway to knowledge. In October, Fr. Peter John Cameron, OP, editor of Magnificat, spoke on “The Responsibility of the Artist.” Using examples from recent plays, Fr. Cameron, a playwright and drama critic, showed how true art is essentially moral and sane. Even though there is a loss of a sense of humanity in much contemporary work, at the bottom is a hunger for the infinite and a hidden nostalgia for God. Each of the lectures was followed by a very lively question and answer session, and a networking reception where everyone had an opportunity to meet the large crowd of artists, musicians, actors, and writers who were in the audience. 

These lectures, which take place once a month through February 2014, are open to the public.  No tickets are required, but it is advisable to arrive early as the room fills up well before the starting time of 7:30 pm. There is no admission charge, but donations are appreciated.  

For more information and dates of the remaining lectures, visit the CAC website at:
www.catholicartistssociety.org.  Audio files of the September and October lectures are also available on the website.