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A Vocation Through Art: How Saint Vincent Demonstrates Spirituality Through Creation

By Erin Brody, Arts and Culture Editor

One of the first things people think of when they hear Saint Vincent College is its monastic community. Outside of the monks who teach at the college, SVC students do not know the majority of the monks on campus, which is why students should visit the Verostko Center for the Arts’ newest exhibition Clothed in Glory.

(Brody) Guests first see a mannequin in priestly robes for the Verostko Center for the Arts’ exhibition of Clothed in Glory.

Clothed in Glory houses a collection of pieces from Father Vincent de Paul Crosby, O.S.B., who has been a part of the Saint Vincent monastic community since 1967. While understanding his vocation as a monk, Fr. Crosby wanted to use the artistic abilities he honed at the Tyler School of Art in Philadelphia as a means of worship. Fr. Crosby made this dream come true when he opened Archabbey Studios in 1979, fulfilling commissions from both Catholic and Protestant denominations.

Andrew Julo, director of the Verostko Center for the Arts, enjoyed his time working with Fr. Crosby and getting to learn more about the monk’s life.

“One of the noteworthy [commissions] he was asked to do was to design a set of vestments for the Anglican cathedral of St. Asaph in North Wales,” Julo said. “He designed a set of red vestments and delivered them for the community [...]. Father Vincent is sort of cited as being the first Catholic priest to speak at that particular cathedral since the Reformation.”

(Brody) Photos, newspaper clippings, and pamphlets for Fr. Vincent de Paul Crosby’s Benedict House, a housing community established in 1987 to help the lives of men affected by AIDS and HIV.

Julo noted that ecumenicism is a strong theme in Fr. Crosby’s life, as he strove to create art for those outside of the Catholic community. Another way he did this was by creating Benedict House in 1987, a housing community in Buffalo for men diagnosed with AIDS and HIV. Some men utilized Benedict House as a hospice, and even during their final years, Fr. Crosby was sure to make their life beautiful by creating art for the house and throwing holiday parties to bring together a community. Benedict House closed in 2015 due to medical advances.

Clothed in Glory is sure to highlight this part of Fr. Crosby’s life and more.

“Visitors of the exhibition will see vestments, sculpture, and some more recent works where [Fr. Crosby] is using Adobe Photoshop to create digital images that are printed onto various substrates,” Julo said.

(Brody) Two vestments and a digital work titled Ave.Eva designed by Father Vincent de Paul Crosby, O.S.B.

Students will quickly catch onto how diverse Fr. Crosby’s artistic abilities are. His digital works are not only printed on canvas, but also onto hardboard and fabric. A summary of some major contributions Fr. Crosby made for various churches around the world are stated in the exhibition too, two of them being the Saint Vincent Archabbey Basilica and Saint Vincent Basilica Crypt.

Clothed in Glory is believed to be Father Crosby’s first solo exhibition on campus, but he has had plenty of exhibitions and works on display in other places.

“But this one, I would argue—based on his personal archive he has kept of his exhibition history—is by far the most extensive by range of projects,” Julo said.

This exhibition had an opening reception on Feb. 1 in the evening, and as many as 120 people came to support Father Crosby. Some of these people included his family, the SVC monastic community, SVC college community, commissioners, and many more.

“Something I admire in [Father Crosby’s] work,” Julo said, “is the ability to speak across denominational lines as a way of allowing things that are beautiful and well-designed to speak.”

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